By Michelle Corns
The boys in blue were out in force on Armley’s Strawberry Fields on Wednesday evening – no, not the police, but the 11th Leeds Boys Brigade.
Fifteen boys between five and 11 years old, were hard at work picking up litter, dressed in their signature blue jumpers. The area – very popular area with dog walkers – is situated behind St Bartholomew’s Church.
The boys, who worked in pairs, were joined in their efforts by community activist Lou Cunningham.
Darren Wilson, company captain, told West Leeds Dispatch that it was important to teach the boys that they are part of the community. The boys earn badges, just like they would in Scouts.
“One of the badges is ‘get involved’ so tidying up the area in which they live is a great way for them to achieve this and understand the value of working in the community,” said Darren.
Their first litter pick was in October last year. Darren added: “We started last year with the Anchor Boys, who are the youngest section aged between five and eight. But this year, we wanted to get more involved, so we’ve combined Anchors and Juniors together tonight.
“We’ve got 11 Juniors and 4 Anchors here today. This is three quarters of our number in total. We are relying on parents to bring them here tonight, so that is great support from the parents.”
The Boys Brigade is a Christian organisation, based at New Whingate Methodist Church, where they have been based for 100 years and with whom they are affiliated. The boys all live in West Leeds – Armley, Whingate, Bramley and Farnley.
The 11th Leeds Boys Brigade had a stall at last year’s Armley Festival so they could talk to parents about the organisation and let them know that there was a great place to send their boys on a weekly basis.
Besides litter picking, the boys learn numerous skills including first aid, cooking, arts and crafts. They learn about interesting facts like the solar system and also host themed nights.
“We even had a trip to the fire station,” Darren told WLD. “We have a whole range of activities, it’s about educating the boys in a fun way and having fun with their friends. What would they be doing otherwise? They would be on the PlayStation. This is a great way of them getting exercise tonight and doing a good service in the community.”
To find out more about the work of the Boys Brigade and how to get involved, go to their website.