14th December 2015
Founded in 1925 in Deptford, South London, the Woodcraft Folk has become a UK-wide organisation dedicated to growing the confidence and social awareness of young people. Support from YUF’s Social Action Fund has enabled Woodcraft Folk’s most ambitious programme of growth for a generation, making 2015 not just a year for reflecting on the organisation’s past, but forward to its future.
The Woodcraft Folk’s first 90 years is being marked with an exhibition at London’s City Hall, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Speaking at the official opening of the exhibition, Woodcraft’s Chief Executive Jon Nott announced that 2015 had seen 38 new groups launched across the UK with support from YUF.
Other speakers at the event included The Independent’s Simon Calder, who attributes his love of travel to early experiences camping with the Woodcraft Folk, and Dame Pauline Green, whose lifelong activism in the Co-operative movement started as a parent volunteer in the Folk in the 1980s.
The Woodcraft Folk shares its roots with the Scouting movement, but was created in 1925 to provide a co-educational and faith-neutral alternative for young people wanting to escape the inner city and discover the outdoors. Internationalism has always been high on its agenda, and it has close links with sister organisations worldwide.
“It’s fitting that the Social Action Fund has provided such valuable support in our anniversary year, as Woodcraft has always encouraged and supported young people to be active citizens and campaigners for a better world,” said Debs McCahon, Director of Development. “As this exhibition shows, Woodcraft Folk was active in opposing the rise of fascism in the 1930s and supporting the anti-Apartheid movement in the 1980s. Today, our young people take action in their communities to protect the environment, promote human rights and achieve social justice.”
New groups have opened during 2015 in West Yorkshire, Wirral, North Wales and Central Scotland. By the end of the project next year, 800 children and young people in these areas will have the opportunity to join a Woodcraft group in their community.
“We could not have achieved this fantastic growth without the support of the Youth United Foundation,” said Jon Nott. “This has been an unparalleled opportunity to achieve our strategic objectives of reaching out to new communities and becoming better known and understood.
“This year over 10,000 children and young people have heard about Woodcraft Folk through our outreach activities. Being part of the YUF network, sharing practice with other uniformed youth organisations, has also given us a valuable chance to reflect on and enrich our own work as we look forward to our centenary in 2025.”
Written by Owen Sedgwick-Jell, Wood craft Folk, UK Project Manager - New Groups Project