Blog | Getting by with a little help from Heathrow
Do you know about the grants available to Scout Groups? For 1st Whitton, a helping hand from Heathrow made their hall fit for use again.
1st Whitton’s meeting place, built two generations ago by local people, wasn’t looking its best. Once the vibrant centre of the community, now it was cold, draughty and expensive.
‘Our electricity bills were really high because the building was so [energy] inefficient,’ says Steve Miles, Group Scout Leader. ‘The heating took hours to warm up, and all the vents were too high up. One Christmas we put up a plastic tree - at the bottom the kids were all freezing, but at the top, by the ceiling, the tree started melting!’
Desperate to update the building, but without the means to do so, Steve turned to his employer for help. ‘I work at Heathrow, Terminal 5,’ he explains. Heathrow is just a stone’s throw from the Scout Hut. Every day, planes roar overhead. ‘I applied for community funding through HAPi [Heathrow Active People Initiative], and they agreed it would be a good project.’
The Heathrow Community fund is an independently-run, grant-making charity, which has provided financial support to numerous local Scout Groups and other community projects who were in need of a helping hand.
Before the work was done, Steve and the other leaders managed to incorporate the project into the Scouts programme. ‘The Scouts recognised the issues we were having with the hall. We taught them about taking meter readings and they came up with ideas about reducing energy usage.’
Over two days, a team from Heathrow worked tirelessly to make the hall more inhabitable for the whole community. The Group received a grant to cover the cost of materials, but many other items were donated. ‘Everybody involved gave up their time to do the work,’ Steve remembers. ‘There was a huge amount of work done. We were really lucky.’
The army of volunteers replaced the single-glazed metal windows, updated the heating system, painted the inside of the hall, cleared the field of rubbish, created a new garden outside and installed hand-dryers to reduce paper towel waste. They even donated old lights from Terminal 5, which would otherwise have been thrown away.
‘The hall feels different when you go in, it’s much more friendly and welcoming now,’ says Steve. ‘The older generation who remember the hall being built really appreciate it, and we’ve got more events happening here now.’ The excellent quality of the work even led to 1st Whitton winning Project of the Year, and receiving a bonus grant. Their relationship with the volunteers at Heathrow is an on-going partnership.
The improvements have given 1st Whitton’s hall a whole new lease of life for the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts who use it each week. Steve would encourage anyone to apply for a grant. ‘Everyone should take advantage of the funds available,’ he says. ‘It’s so worth it.’
Information about other grants for Scout Groups are available at scouts.org.uk/grants. Has your Group benefitted from a grant? Let us know what difference it has made to you.