9th April 2015
In the grounds of the old St Matthias church, a group of Cubs from the 2nd East London Scout group have been learning about the importance of social responsibility, active citizenship and intergenerational learning.
The church, which had fallen into a downward spiral of neglect and vandalism since its closure in the 1970’s, has now been enjoying a new lease of life as a community centre at the very heart of the Docklands elderly community.
Today, the Cubs are huddled around their leader, Vicky Thompson, in the former churchyard learning about the importance of environmental responsibility and admiring what was once an overgrown and litter-strewn yard – an area that is now ready for spring’s new growth thanks to the Scouts’ handy work.
“Who can tell me why it’s important to not drop litter”, says Scout leader, Vicky Thompson.
“It affects the wildlife and damages the environment so other things can’t grow,” says Kristian, 8; “and it keeps the streets clean and makes people feel happy about where they live”.
The Cubs are confident and eager to share their new knowledge and achievements, which have been part of an active citizenship initiative that has been recently introduced by the Scouts in the form of their new Community Impact badge.
However, the Cubs feel their biggest achievement and most beneficial community action within the local area has been their volunteering during the Christmas and Boxing Day period. The festive social action involved the delivering of Christmas dinners to the elderly community by not only the 30 Cubs, but also their families.
“At Christmas I helped with my family to serve dinner to the elderly people. We had to ask what they wanted to eat and we then delivered them the meals with our family. It made me happy to help people who might be alone a Christmas.” says Rowan, a recent active citizen awardee.
The group regularly volunteers at St. Matthias Church dances also by engaging with the elderly by talking about each other’s lives, but also learning a thing or two about Waltzing! The relationship between the two generations is evidently a warm and appreciative one, which shows The Scout Association are taking large steps towards improving intergenerational learning and positively impacting the community living in the Isle of Dogs.
The work the 2nd East London Scouts have done in the area are just a few shining examples of how the community has been coming together for social action, but it also helps to build ongoing relationships that focus on intergenerational and social inclusion. It’s these initiatives that Jim Fitzpatrick MP has been keen to champion but also play an active part in - with the Labour minister and his wife frequently volunteering to take part in these social action activities:
“St Matthias has always played a big part in the local community, it is great that their outreach includes Poplar and Limehouse residents of all ages. The 2nd East London Scout Cubs are doing a fantastic job in their local community.”
The 2nd East London Cubs are a shining example of a Scout group that regularly participate in community impact projects that The Scout Association hope to expand to wider parts of the UK as part of their ‘Better Prepared’ strategy. The expansion of community action focused activities will focus on working with children from hard-to-reach or disadvantaged areas and will be partly funded by Youth United’s Uniformed Youth Social Action fund.
Well done, 2nd East London Scouts!