Nineteen Somerset students were made to feel a little uncomfortable recently as they ‘slept rough’, all in the aid of raising awareness and funds for homelessness in our community. The event gave students an appreciation and understanding of the real issues that face some people on the coast.
The best way to do this was to put them in a situation that they were not use to.
The evening began by visiting ‘Walk with Us’, a charitable group who prepare and serve meals out of Fradgley Hall in Burleigh. After serving meals, students engaged in conversation with those experiencing homelessness. Groups of students took turns at visiting the volunteer crew from Orange Sky Laundry thanks to parent volunteer, Joanne Lau. It was then all hands on deck to wash dishes and clean up the Hall. On returning to the College, the nineteen strong group came together to talk about an honest and compassionate exploration of what it is like to be homeless in Australia today. To their credit, they shone a light on a part of society often overlooked and ignored. Students were asked to write a letter to a homeless person with the intention of having these delivered with our Backpack Beds. The extract below is an example of the thoughtful and compassionate account many spoke about.
“I’m not going to say that I understand what you are going through now, but what I am going to say is that life can really beat us down sometimes. Sometimes it can feel as if the whole world is against us. It is in these times that it is most important for us to keep hope. Hope is something that we all have when we have nothing else. I hope this note will help you keep your head up high, put a smile on your face and create warmth in your heart. Please accept this backpack bed from the Somerset community and know that our thoughts are with you at this time."
After a sleepless night in the cold, the group were back in the College bus again, this time to HAVAFEED, another charitable organisation who serves breakfast out of the Mermaid Beach Community Centre. After a quick chat with the folks from Orange Sky Laundry, we moved inside for breakfast. Students were kept very busy and again engaged in conversation which could have continued all morning; however, it was back to school for period 1!
In the lead-up to our sleep out, students were able to raise $8650 to purchase 78 Backpack Beds. Somerset families also had the opportunity to donate toiletries. Backpack Bed for Homeless provides emergency relief to street sleeping homeless people without shelter. They work in partnership with 600+ homeless agencies across Australia to reach homeless people who do not have any other form of accommodation. The Backpack Bed improves health, dignity, sleep, warmth, comfort and safety. The charity was recognised by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2011.
The attention and respect that our students give to those who are less fortunate in life is commendable. We hope the awareness that the students develop within this programme encourages them to participate in the many other service opportunities that they can get involved in during their time at Somerset or better still, initiate themselves.
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