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Last Thursday, 20 girls in LV- UVI (Years 10-13) slept out in the grounds of St Mary’s in order to raise awareness and funds for Doorway, a charity supporting those who are homeless, moving out of homelessness or those who have complex issues which might affect their tenancy. Marguerite (UVI, Year 13) who organised the event, shares her reflections on this experience.

‘Doing a sleepout for Doorway is something where you really feel you are making a difference. By experiencing the hardship of sleeping out, even for such a small time and in a safe environment, we can raise awareness and understand the issues of homelessness.

We started the sleepout with a reflection which highlighted the causes of homelessness, the different types there can be, and the difficulties homeless people faced during lockdown. This reflection was an important part of the sleepout as it gave people time to think about why we were really doing this, and to properly understand the hardships the homeless face. One of the most important things to reflect upon was why we were doing this: not to replicate what the homeless have to do day-in-day-out, but instead to understand from our small experience of one night how difficult it is for them to do this for nights on end, with no foreseeable way out of their situation.

At about 10.30pm we all went to the field outside St Cecilia’s where we were sleeping for the night. We wrapped up warm and laid out our sleeping bags and roll mats. We were then given hot chocolate and cookies by Mrs Bolton to help keep out the frost, which was already forming on the plastic sheet and cardboard boxes kindly saved for us by the Catering and Science Departments. It took most people a long time to fall asleep with the sound of the rustling of bivvy bags but as it was a clear night, we could look up and enjoy the stars until we fell asleep.

In the morning, Mrs Bolton woke us up at 7am. Everyone got out of their sleeping bags quickly, eager to get back to their nice warm rooms. We cleared away all our things and returned to our houses for breakfast. Sleeping out in the cold wasn’t the only challenge though, now we had to get through a whole day of lessons without falling asleep! This showed not only the hardship of sleeping out, as it was the coldest night of the year so far, but also emphasised the difficulty of trying to function the next day - something which is a necessity for the homeless, who are trying to get themselves out of their situation.

Thank you to all those who have donated to this valuable cause, it is through the hard work of charities like Doorway that we can help give the homeless the opportunities they need. You can still support this event by donating here. Well done to everyone who took part!’