Giving something back to the community

GIFT BOXES Girlguides carefully packed toiletries to give to victims of domestic violence
GIFT BOXES Girlguides carefully packed toiletries to give to victims of domestic violence
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Jacqui Dixon, County Commissioner, Girlguiding Hampshire East, talks about Project Shoebox

Girlguiding celebrates another centenary in 2016 – it’s the 100th birthday of our senior section for young women 14-26 years old.

This age group is really into community projects and Lee-on-the-Solent Senior Section group wanted to give something back to their local community.

As part of their autumn programme they decided to learn more about domestic violence and issues surrounding violence against women, and organised a peer education session on the topic, run by young specially-trained Guiding members.

The peer education sessions were an eye-opener for the girls as they had no idea there were women’s refuges locally and that there is, unfortunately, a growing need for them.

Project Shoebox was an ideal project as the girls could collect items for the gift boxes and then pack the boxes.

Project Shoebox is a voluntary annual enterprise that collects unwanted toiletries and makes up gift boxes for women in refuges.

The project started off in someone’s kitchen in London three years ago and by the power of social media and 40 volunteers now happens all over the UK and is now branching out to Australia.

The project only runs for a couple of weeks in November so the gift boxes are ready at the refuges for Christmas.

The girls in Lee-on-Solent Senior Section unit worked really hard sorting the large amount of toiletries that had arrived at the unit leader’s home and, at the end of their mammoth wrapping and packing session, had made 55 shoeboxes for women to go with 15 bags of baby and childrens’ items.

The toiletries, where possible, were arranged by colour because the girls wanted the women who received the boxes to feel that someone had taken care to make something nice for them.

Once packed the shoeboxes were delivered to Southern Domestic Abuse Network, ready to go out to local women in need.

Project Shoebox across the country made 8,255 boxes for local refuges.

Marie, the unit leader, said: ‘This was a great opportunity for the girls to see how a small effort locally can be part of a much bigger project. It has raised their awareness of the effect of domestic violence.’

Information about Project Shoebox is on their Facebook page.

For more information about how to get involved in girlguiding, go to girlguiding.org.uk.