Beaver scouts take homeless challenge for The Big Issue

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Beaver Scouts from Woodford Halse took on the challenge of being homeless last week by sleeping in cardboard boxes overnight.

The 11 children, aged between six and eight, from the 1st Woodford Halse Scout Group spent the night in Dryden Hall in Woodford Halse to create awareness for The Big Issue Foundation.

The sleepover raised £32.50 for the cause and gave the youngsters an opportunity to gain some of the 200 scout activity and challenge badges available to them, while also contributing to their Nights Away experiences.

Beaver Scout Henry Burton said: “I was so excited to come, the sleepover was amazing.

“I learnt about how homeless people don’t have a lot and why they sleep in cardboard boxes.”

The cardboard boxes, supplied by Storagebase in Banbury, were decorated by the children who spoke enthusiastically about what it would be like to not have a comfy bed to sleep in for the night.

Eliza Lewis-Dickson, another Beaver, said: “I am going to like my bed more when I get home but it was really good.”

The challenge is one of more than 200 activities offered to the half a million Scouts nationwide that are made possible by the efforts of 100,000 voluntary leaders.

Adult volunteer Jennie Curtis said: “The Beavers have been looking into what it is to be homeless. They made me a cardboard shelter as well so I could join in. It certainly made me think more about what I have.”

One of the issues currently facing the Scout Movement is finding more volunteers like Ms Curtis to plug the gap, as there is a 38,000 strong waiting list of young people wanting to join the group.

Despite the shortage the Scouting Association, founded in August 1907, boasts more volunteers than the combined workforces of the BBC and McDonalds put together.

Creating opportunities for young people to develop social skills, independence and form friendships is central to scouting philosophy, and has a long term positive impact on young people’s lives.

Chief Scout, celebrity British adventurer and TV presenter Bear Grylls said: “Scouting’s 500,000 members are an inspiration. It’s great to see it.

“It’s all about friendship and fun and adventure - people who might no normally have the chance for adventure. Scouts are shining lights in their communities.”

The 1st Woodford Halse comprises 50 young people and 15 adults who support the work of the Scouting Movement.

The group is always looking for new members or volunteers and those wishing to join are invited to visit www.scouts.org.uk/join.