By Andrew Phelps, 1st Stoke Gifford Scouts.
On the weekend of 13th/14th February, the Scouts of the Old School Rooms troop in Stoke Gifford slept rough – in their own gardens due to lockdown – in minus 3 degrees centigrade temperatures, with just their cardboard shelters for protection. Why on earth would they do that? I hear you all ask!
Earlier in the week, the Scouts had been joined by a trustee from the Julian Trust who talked about homelessness, the Trust and what it’s like to be a volunteer for the charity. Gary did a great talk and the Scouts, wanting to experience what it’s like sleeping rough, organised the following weekend’s activity.
It really was a challenge due to the temperatures, emphasised by the fact that several homeless charities were encouraging rough sleepers to get inside over the weekend for safety. The Scouts however wanted to persevere, and with parents keeping a close eye on them (and the weather), the event continued full steam ahead.
It’s amazing how warm and well insulated it was in the cardboard bivouacs!
We all made it through the night and when morning came everyone went indoors for a warm meal and hot drinks.
Having experienced what it’s like to sleep outside, even if for only one night of the year, the Scouts wanted to go further and raise some money to supply the Julian Trust and maybe other charities with much-needed clothing for their clients (boxer shorts and socks are always needed). So we organised a virtual walk from Lands End to John O’Groats (874 miles), by combining all our daily exercise sessions, and set up a crowdfunding page.
I’m pleased to report that we completed our challenge on 7th March, having collectively walked 891 miles in 16 days (OK, we may have walked into the sea a bit!).
If you would like to make a donation, please visit our crowdfunding page at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/osr-scouts
To read more about how we got on, search for ‘OSR Scouts Virtual Challenge’ on Facebook.
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on page 10). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.