At the end of the Spring Term, our School Prefects held a sponsored sleepout for Warming Up the Homeless. Will Gwynne, Upper Sixth, reports on his experience of the event and what he learned.
We each got our boxes, our sleeping bags and our blankets, set up in our back gardens, and spent a night trying to experience what being homeless must be like.
We all expected to be cold and to be uncomfortable, but I don’t think any of us fully grasped what a night outside would really entail. The stars were beautiful, but the intermittent passing of cars, birds flying overhead, the whistle of wind, and so many inconsequential noises that you would normally never consider combined to make it a startlingly noisy experience. You would think at 4am that the world is a quiet place. It is not.
On top of that there was the cold. That word does not even begin to describe how terrible it feels to be deeply cold, especially when it is for a long period of time. My toes, feet, fingers and nose very quickly went numb, even though I was wearing many pairs of socks and gloves. The ground was hard and damp, so very uncomfortable and it was impossible to find a comfortable position to get into. I could feel the cold seeping into my body and making my joints ache. It was horrible, and experiencing it helped me to understand in a way that imagining never could. All of these things combined made it such a challenge to even grasp a short period of sleep.
Whilst we all were uncomfortable and cold and found it hard to sleep, we knew as we were doing this that our experience pales in comparison to what the homeless face. To sleep and be exposed to the weather night after night is something we still can’t fully comprehend. After one night, we felt the mental drain, the aches, the pains and the fatigue for the days to follow, and we each went out into our gardens after having a good meal, with the knowledge and respite of having a cosy room and bed to go back to afterwards. To think that the homeless out there face this experience every single day of their lives, with no hope of change, is truly terrible and heart-breaking.
We set out with the target or raising £2,000 as a community, but through so much support, we have exceeded that figure. Thank you to everyone who donated. This really is a worthy cause that I for one am proud to have contributed to.