25 April 2018

Big Sleep Out 2018

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Charity Action Group ran its third annual Big Sleep Out last week, fundraising and raising awareness of the problems facing the homeless. Forty-three students in Years 10-12 and three members of staff spent one night sleeping outside on the school campus, with just sleeping bags and cardboard for protection. Every student aimed to raise a minimum of £20 in sponsorship for Porchlight, a Tonbridge-based charity helping homeless people in Kent and Croydon. Each £20 raised will fund a basic starter pack of food and toiletries for someone on their first night in one of Porchlight’s hostels.

Having only slept a few hours last night, please bear with us as we try to make coherent sentences. Although the weather this year made the Big Sleep Out very pleasant, having done it for the last two years, we know that it is not always like this. Even in these rare, warm conditions, sleeping on the ground is never a comfortable experience. This is why we have continued to do the Big Sleep Out, as it has allowed us, to some extent, to gain an insight into the lives of the shocking number of people who have to sleep rough on the street every night.

Although we know that it is not a completely authentic experience as we are sleeping in a safe area and know we will be able to sleep in a warm bed the following night, it is still valuable as we raise both money to support the homeless and awareness.

We arrived on campus at 7pm and were given a briefing by the teachers before setting up our cardboard home for the night. After having soup around a campfire, which was not so necessary this year because of the heat, we chatted for a while amongst ourselves and then settled down to sleep. Once you do get to sleep, you can easily be awakened by the occasional church bells, other people, and general disturbances around the school. This makes lessons the next day challenging, and so it is easier for us to see that once you are forced to sleep rough at night, your life during the daytime is also affected.

We are very grateful for the teachers who allow this to happen and we can safely say that since doing this, we have never taken for granted our everyday luxuries in quite the same way.

Rebecca Funnell and Rosalie Owen, Lower Sixth

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