Earlier this term, co-founder of Edinburgh-based charity Social Bite, Alice Thompson, visited Belhaven Hill School, the boarding and day school in Dunbar, to talk about their goal of ending homelessness in Scotland.
Alice also spoke about their new fundraising campaign, Wee Sleep Out. Just started in 2018 when 5,000 young people took up the challenge, it emulates the hugely successful Sleep in the Park where people are sponsored to sleep out in the cold in aid of homelessness.
Wee Sleep Out offers groups of young people the flexibility to hold their own sponsored mini sleep outs in their own choice of venue, such as local parks or school facilities, and on a date that suits.
Inspired by Alice’s talk, 71 pupils aged between 8 and 13 from Belhaven did just that. They chose the school’s unheated Sports Hall as the venue, providing protection against the wind and the rain, but not the cold.
While temperatures dropped overnight, pupils took part in several activities aimed at raising awareness of the plight of homeless people in Scotland. They also gave a few entertaining musical performances of their own and listened to a short bed-time story, recorded especially for Social Bite by David Walliams.
Thanks to the generosity of the wider school community over £4,000 was raised, as well as lots of awareness of the issues around homelessness.
“I am absolutely delighted that lots of Belhaven children took part in the Wee Sleep Out – so many in fact that we had to limit numbers,” says Mr Henry Knight, Belhaven’s Headmaster.
“It is incredible how much support they have had from friends and family and I am thrilled that they have far exceeded their target of raising £3,000 – a great achievement.”
Two pupils add their own comments about the experience: “It was exciting and fun but it also made us realise how lucky we are not to have to sleep in the streets,” said Bee. “I loved the Wee Sleep Out. It was fun but it was cold!” added Petra.
Many thanks to the five teachers, Mrs Parks, Miss Wimbledon, Mr Marriott, Mr Dryburgh, Mrs Brodie and Leila, their gappie, who volunteered to join them.
For 2019, Sleep in the Park goes global with the World’s Big Sleep Out on Saturday 7th December in Princes Street Gardens.