Sevenoaks students raise £600 in sponsored sleep out

Last week 22 students enjoyed the unique experience of the Big Sleep Out, spending a night outside on campus to raise money for local charity the Bridge Trust.

The pupils, from Years 10, 11 and Lower Sixth, took part in the activity on Friday 11 March along with five members of staff. The event aimed to raise awareness for homelessness, as well as money for the Bridge Trust, a charity supporting homeless people in West Kent. Overall, we successfully raised more than £600 through sponsorship for participating.

The Sleep Out was organised for us to experience what it was like to be homeless, and while not a completely accurate representation, it was quite rough and uncomfortable and still proved to be challenge. With only cardboard, a sleeping bag and minimal shelter it was quite difficult to endure the whole night.

At start of the evening, we made it a challenge to find the best shelter possible, and ultimately we settled under Cottage Block, in the Pagodas, and on the Bag Racks near Modern Languages. We chose these locations based on their shelter from any wind or rain, and to protect us from the cold throughout the night. Before we slept, we sat around a chiminea, with soup, bread and hot chocolate, and were excited about the task ahead.

However, we soon realised how hard it was going to be. It was impossible to sleep undisturbed, due to the bitter cold and the hard, uncomfortable cardboard ‘mattresses’. On average most of us only managed to sleep about four hours, while some could not sleep at all. The following school day was even more challenging, as we had to push through the whole day with only minimal sleep and a sore back.

Still, it was a relief to know that by the end of this, we would be able to return to the warmth of our homes and our lives would return to normal. We knew very well that this was not the case for those who are homeless on the streets. Not only did we have warmer clothes, but we also did not have to worry about our possessions, as we knew we were safe on school grounds, and we would not be under threat.

If we were to do another night, it would most certainly have been impossible for some. Overall, the Sleep Out helped greatly in increasing our empathy towards the homeless, as we experienced how painful their everyday life is. We understood how privileged we are, and that we should try and share that privilege with others.

Phil Ascough and Reena Chow

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