Guides brave the cold for homelessness

MICAELA ABOODY

Brisbane Girl Guides have helped raise awareness of homelessness by sleeping in a cardboard “city” in Redland Bay on Saturday night.

Ready for bed at Chain of Cardboard Cities Redland Bay

Local Guides get ready to sleep in their cardboard “homes”. Photo: Micaela Aboody

The event, dubbed Chain of Cardboard Cities, took place at PGL Kindilan Outdoor Education Centre, with all funds raised going to Orange Sky Laundry, an organisation that provides mobile laundry and shower services for homeless people.

Guide leader in charge of the Chain of Cardboard Cities event, Tamika Gibson, said the idea for the event emerged six years ago when the Brisbane Girl Guides were looking for more ways to become involved in the community.

Ms Gibson said the girls had to carry their possessions in a pillowcase and take place in a series of activities aimed to increase their awareness about homelessness.

“It teaches the girls awareness and about homelessness and what that [homelessness] means,” she said.

“It also forms great teamwork skills.”

The activities featured at the sleep out were based on the board game, “The Game of Life”.

Ms Gibson said each of the activities that were set up were related to homelessness, and each activity base earned the participants a “life phase” from one of two random outcomes.

“One is positive and one not so positive, and then that determines how many food, life and money tokens they get,” she said.

“For example, you get a [life] phase card to start, [and] you are either a boy or a girl.”
“Boys are more advantaged than girls.”

The girls had to choose different life phases throughout the “game”, which let them experience fair, unfair and stereotyped situations, depending on factors like gender and education.

Chain of Cardboard Cities box city

The Chain of Cardboard Cities was made from second-hand boxes. Photo: Micaela Aboody

Rebecca Fillery, who was one of the participants at the Chain of Cardboard Cities event, said taking part in the event helped her understand a little more about the struggle to live on the streets and the difficulty of having to carry your possessions everywhere.

“Doing the Chain of Cardboard Cities, it made me realise how much I take for granted, like being able to access food as I please and having a nice comfy bed to keep me warm at night,” Miss Fillery said.

Orange Sky Laundry events coordinator Jaimee O’Brien agreed there were stereotypes around the issue of homelessness but said the conversations the organisation’s staff had with homeless people helped those people connect back into the community.

Ms O’Brien said the greatest impacts they saw were in the conversations they had with homeless people using their services.

“We think it’s great when people in the community get out there and raise awareness around issues of the people who are experiencing homelessness,” she said.

Ms O’Brien said the funds received from community organisations such as the Girl Guides helped grow their operations and expand their services to new locations, enabling them to help more than 116,000 homeless people around the country.

“Unfortunately, what that looks like is one in 200 Australians on any given night experiencing homelessness,” she said.

This year’s Chain of Cardboard Cities event raised approximately $1,700 for Orange Sky Laundry.

To find out more or donate to Orange Sky Laundry head to their website.

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