2018 SPA School Sleep Out
With the beginning of the new academic year, SPA staff and students quickly came together to launch the first of many enterprise and fundraising initiatives to take place this year in support of a number of nominated charities. With the formation of our first SPA student Enterprise and Charity Committee, research into which charity we would support led us to the decision to support the vital work of Centrepoint UK – the UK’s leading youth homelessness charity. With youth homelessness on the rise, Centrepoint support more than 9,200 homeless 16-25 year olds into a home and a job each year.
As well as raising much needed funds for Centrepoint UK, it is also important that students are educated on the issues which can lead to youth homelessness, the solution to youth homelessness and how our school community can help in supporting this process. Through year group assemblies and form time discussions, students have gained a greater knowledge and understanding of youth homelessness. Possessing such knowledge and understanding of such an issue inevitably leads to enhanced passion and action in wanting to contribute to such a worthy cause.
Our Enterprise and Charity Committee (made up of students across Years 9-11), working alongside Year 8 and 9 students who are part of our SPA Achieve Programme, worked extremely hard to raise awareness of youth homelessness across the Academy and what we as a school community are doing in support of Centrepoint UK. Students developed displays and information stands which they confidently spoke about to prospective Year 6 students and parents during our annual Open Day and Open Mornings this term. Our fundraising campaign was kick started during our Open Day on Saturday 29th September with students selling donuts, cakes and Leo’s famous pasta which all proved extremely popular with guests and staff alike. Following this we held a bake sale which was also fully supported by staff and students.
In order to further develop the sense of empathy which both students and staff felt towards this cause as well as a deeper understanding of the society we live in through learning about homelessness, Friday 5th October saw 80 students from Years 7-11, as well as 14 SPA staff participate in our ‘2018 SPA School Sleep Out’.
Our ‘2018 SPA School Sleep Out’ took place from 7pm on Friday 5th October and finished at 8am on Saturday 6th October. The event took place in the grounds of the school campus, outside in our sheltered junior courtyard. Throughout the duration of the event all students were exceptionally well behaved and visibly enjoyed what can only be described as a surreal experience. Students enjoyed participating in activities laid on throughout the evening with pupils in all year groups positively interacting with one another, dancing and playing games, all in the absence of technology and social media which our young people in today’s society have become so accustomed to. Although faced with challenges throughout the evening, students rallied together to help and support each other, showing care and compassion as they all found themselves in a unique situation for one night. What was most definitely a memorable experience for all involved, our ‘2018 SPA School Sleep Out’ helped to empower our students to make a difference and help change the lives of 16-25 year olds who have nowhere to call home.
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Having set themselves a challenge, testing skills of determination, self-motivation and resilience, while sitting and enjoying breakfast together the following morning, staff and students took time to reflect on their experiences. With the stark realities of what it may feel like to be homeless striking a chord with all participants, Year 8 student, Chaze commented on how difficult and eye opening she found the experience expressing how she ‘couldn’t do it’, she ‘couldn’t be homeless’, ‘it’s not nice’. Chaze reflected on how uncomfortable it is to sleep on a cold hard ground, how difficult it is to sleep with noise all around and as morning approached how the light stopped her from sleeping. These words resonated strongly with all participants and reflected many people’s experiences of our ‘Sleep Out’. A huge well done to all participants on the evening for taking part and giving of their time in empathy of the situation so many others simply know as their reality.
As well as raising awareness of youth homelessness and the work of Centrepoint, once all sponsorship money has been collected and counted it is hoped that, in true St Paul’s Academy style, we can raise a substantial amount of money for this worthy cause. In culmination of all of our efforts, Wednesday 10th October will see staff and students across the Academy once again join forces to participate in our annual ‘Lap for Life’ in aid of Centrepoint UK. This promises to be an enjoyable event which epitomises our ethos of ‘Faith in Action’. ‘SPA Lap for Life 2018’ will form a part of the next edition of our newsletter where readers will also be able to read about how much our school community has managed to raise.