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The Anglicare WA School Sleep-out

It was a night to remember! Over 500 students from 20 different schools brought together for 12 hours to experience a small taste of homelessness. Weeks of fundraising had been done leading up to the event, and it was now time for the students to live up to their promise.

The Anglicare WA School Sleepout is an annual event that raises money for those living with homelessness. Events like these show the power that young people can have with their interest, advocacy, and fundraising – over $180,000 has been raised so far, and that will make a huge difference.

Designed to simulate the difficulties of being homeless, the hectic race to complete the given tasks cause endless amounts of frustration. Being turned away or arriving at the fake post office just for it to close left many of us wanting to scream in frustration. A Chance Card left my group sitting on the floor for five minutes (“stuck on the streets”), and it was difficult to persevere and not just give up. But the shining beacon of hope in these difficulties was the Street Connect van. When other tables turned us away with a snide comment, the Street Connect workers welcomed us, helping and guiding us towards our goals.

The time passed in a blink of an eye, and before we knew it a bell was ringing, signalling the end. Several groups completed their list; sadly, many others did not with many groups, including my own getting frustratingly close but not quite. The rest of the night was spent socialising with the other schools, and collecting our half a cup of soup which, after waiting over two hours in line, was received with a lot of gratitude.

Around midnight those of us who had spread out to other schools, began the journey back to the All Saints’ patch of cardboard. Hushed talking and silent laughter occupied the next two hours, before sleeping bags stilled and the teachers breathed a secret sigh of relief. Throughout the early hours of the morning noises echoed around the stadium: dogs barking, bins rattling. Part of the simulation or just figments of our tired imaginations? We will never know, but one thing is for sure, most of us got less sleep than we needed.

Voices and the smell of food woke us up at around 5:30am and a queue of sleepy people formed for breakfast. Cardboard returned and final speeches over, we headed outside to wait for the cars to appear. It was freezing outside but, with the derby on that day, they wanted us out: all part of the experience, I guess.

The close proximity and shared bonding over this experience allowed us to create new friendships with like-minded people, to last a lifetime. Although we have not yet reached our fundraising goal, with several weeks till the site closes and donations still coming in, we hope to get there soon. A great amount of money has already been raised, with the top fundraiser being our very own Katie Biddulph, and it is fair to say the event was yet again a wonderful success.

Article written by Ruthie Ong (Year 11 Catalyst Leader)