Last Friday, 95 Year 10 students braved the horrible weather conditions to sleep in the corridors of SHC to find out what it is like to be homeless for just one night.

We started the evening with a cup of hot soup and one slice of bread, which was then followed by a delicious dessert of a cup of Milo and a biscuit. After dinner, we listened to guest speakers Colin Krause and Niamh Kiely from Passages (a Resource Centre for 12-24 year olds). They told us about the struggles of young homeless people and how difficult it is for them to find temporary shelter, let alone a job. Passages does not receive funding from the Government and relies solely on donations from schools like ours and other organisations. 

They showed us that the total possessions a young person often has is just a bag containing a phone, sleeping bag, jumper, note pad and a small amount of food. These homeless youth often roam Perth and Mandurah cities at night because they cannot find a place to sleep. Passages helps homeless youth by providing them with opportunities to help change their lives and make informed decisions. Niamh and Colin also told us how homeless youth do not like to be made to feel invisible. They suggested that rather than giving them money, you could just buy them a coffee or just say g’day when you pass them.

Paris Mitchell was the next guest speaker who talked about his own struggles of being homeless. Through reflection and courage, he managed to turn his life around, complete a university degree and get his life on track. This was a massive effort on his behalf as he had none of the encouragement and home comforts we all enjoy. Paris has even put his experience to music. We all then organised our cardboard boxes for the night and got some sleep.

Thanks to Mrs Hywood, Miss Moreton and the 14 other staff who attended for making the evening informative and enjoyable.

Theo Baskovich
Year 10 Student

The aim of this annual event is for students to gain a closer look at some of the effects of homelessness and also to break down their stereotypes about homeless people. A major focus of the evening was also to develop understanding and empathy for the plight of the homeless by getting a ‘taste’ of sleeping in an uncomfortable environment.

This year’s Winter Sleepout raised the remarkable amount of $4,360 for Young Vinnies’ charity work at the College. This money will be used to make the 800 meals we prepare each year for the homeless and for the Fun Day Out for underprivileged children in September. The money was also used to purchasing the toiletry items for the 100 Care Packs and a donation to St Vincent de Paul Winter Appeal and our Guest Speaker.

Mobile phones, iPods, magazines, cards and other forms of entertainment were not permitted on the night.

Students considered the causes of homelessness and its effects on refugees and asylum seekers fleeing wars and repression. Students also put together 100 care packs of toiletries which were donated to Passages.

Niamh Kiely said that there was an urgent need for backpacks, sleeping bags and warm clothes for the many homeless teenagers who visited the Centre. If students wish to donate any of these items they can be brought to Mrs Hywood’s office in the Highgate Centre (Student Services).

Later in the evening, the students watched a film about the power of hope in homelessness entitled A Street Cat Named Bob.

The students’ responses to and interaction with the guest speakers were exemplary and they need to be commended.

Thanks are due to the staff members who braved the cold and made the evening such a success.

Rossana Hywood
Administrative Assistant - Social Justice

The Year 10 Winter Sleepout was a memorable night that proved to be successful in opening our eyes to the reality of homelessness in our society. The cold and rainy conditions contributed to this, as well as the prospect of sleeping in a cardboard box for the night and the many discussions we had from people who work to support the homeless in Perth. All in all, it was a great night that balanced the fun of staying at school with an eye-opening insight into the world of homelessness today.

Liam Di Girolami
Year 10 Student

The Winter Sleepout was an insightful and unforgettable experience that allowed us to experience and raise awareness about homelessness. We heard about homelessness, causes and how we can provide aid from several special guest speakers including a social worker from Passages and a motivational speaker. After having a slice of bread and a cup of soup, we prepared packs of toiletries to give to Passages and then retreated to our cardboard boxes and sleeping bags to sleep, battling the cold, rainy weather.

Thank you to Mrs Hywood, the other staff members who supervised us throughout the night and organised the event and the guests who gave up their time to speak to us. It was an amazing experience and I highly recommend it to anyone in the younger years that is thinking of doing it.

Rebecca Ruthven
Year 10 Student

The Winter Sleepout was a great experience. We listened to people who experience homelessness and also learned what is like to have no home to sleep in for a night. Overall, we enjoyed getting out of our comfort zone for a night. The Sleepout also taught us to be more grateful for what we have.

Matthew Clynck
Year 10 Student

Along with many other Year 10s, I participated in the annual Winter Sleepout last Friday. Although the night was long and cold, it was a rewarding experience as it broadened our understanding of the situations of others. Building our own homes out of cardboard for the night gave us empathy for those who constantly live in these conditions.

Many thanks to Mrs Hywood and Mrs Manning for organising the night, the other PCG teachers who gave up their time to supervise and the inspirational speakers who came out and enlightened our knowledge about homelessness.

Dorcas Bugeme-Akonkwa
Year 10 Student