Across Kent, thousands of scouts, beavers, cubs and explorers supported Porchlight’s Big Cardboard Sleep Out.
The groups camped out overnight with just cardboard and sleeping bags in order to raise money for the local homelessness charity.
In Ashford, the event took place on October 13 at the Singleton Environment Centre where almost 200 young people aged between 6-17 and their leaders, set up camp on cardboard for the night.
12-year-old Great Chart scout, Daisy Gathern said: “We’re raising money for the homeless so we’re trying to live like them for a night. There was a homeless man outside our church so seeing that made me want to do it.”
Before the evening began, Great Chart, Scout leader Dave Gathern spoke about the challenges, as well as the local support they had received.
He said: “The most challenging thing could have been the weather but it looks like it’s going to be on our side. Singleton Environment Centre, have let us use their facilities, they’re the guys cooking breakfast tomorrow morning for 200 odd scouts.
“We’ve had support from Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s who have donated all the hot chocolate and we’ve had support from all the scouting groups around Ashford.”
Singleton Spaces, Centre manager, John Alexander said: “This is a wonderful space, it gets the kids out, it’s a safe area and it’s a perfect match for this sort of activity. It’s for a great cause.”
The event was created to raise awareness of homelessness in which figures show a dramatic increase of rough sleepers in Kent over the last few years. In 2017, Porchlight’s rough sleeper team found 834 homeless people compared with 148 just five years ago.
The charity’s community fundraising manager Rachel Von Hoven, Porchlight’s community fundraising manager hopes that the kids will gain a meaningful experience from the event as well as raising money.
Rachel said: “Homelessness is a growing issue in Kent, as it is across the country. To have you know 3000 children across Kent sleeping out in cardboard boxes for Porchlight is like a dream come true really.
“It will make such a huge difference to the charity, to the people who we support and hopefully the kids will have a meaningful experience from it too.”
With so many groups involved around the county, Kent Scouts County Commissioner, Dean Harding visited many of them on the night.
He said: “The Big Cardboard Sleepout is a fantastic occasion for scouting in Kent. Scouting sees itself as a force for good and so does Porchlight and together we hope to raise well over £20,000 to support that charity.”
Just days on from World Homeless Day, these young people have not only gained a new perspective on what it’s like to be homeless but also raised a huge amount of money to help Porchlight tackle the rising issue on our streets.