Over 60 students and staff joined Wolfendale House at Stretford Grammar School on their first Sleep Out for Shelter fundraising event. Despite being the first day of the half term break, students started to arrive back at school at nightfall to grab their place in the tent city which was erected behind the main school building. Whilst there was great excitement at the opportunity to see school in a completely different way, there was also a very serious purpose behind the event. Event organiser, Sarah Alderson, Head of Wolfendale House, explained “We wanted the students to develop some empathy for people forced to live life on the streets. We held the event in October to give a sense of the cold and lack of comforts we take for granted.”
Whilst the rain stayed away, it was certainly a cold night under canvas. Students and staff joined together around the camp fire to share marshmallows and smores and enjoy a burger or hot dog but once away from the comforting flames, reality set in. Year 8 pupil, Isabel, described the night. “It was extremely cold, despite at least five layers of clothing, the cold seemed to go right through everything. It was also very uncomfortable. We were lucky to have tents but it must be even worse if you’re just out in the open. If you woke up and needed the toilet, you had to go all the way inside as we were fortunate to have the school toilets. It’s made me see homelessness in a new way.”
So far, over £600 pounds has been raised which will go directly to the charity, Shelter, which provides support and guidance not just for the homeless but also those living in uninhabitable conditions. Meanwhile, Wolfendale House are already planning next year’s sleep out, which will contain the added twist of students building their own shelter from cardboard, newspapers and bin liners. Let’s hope the rain stays away again.