Mount Senior School pupils slept out of doors last Friday (24 April) to raise awareness for the plight of the homeless.
The girls were keen to encourage others to take a compassionate approach to the homeless community by experiencing first-hand what it’s like to sleep rough, and were joined by a pupil from Bootham, York’s other Quaker school.
The Sleepout took place on a cold, clear night within school grounds. The girls in their sleeping bags had to fend off the low temperatures with cardboard boxes, newspaper and other makeshift items commonly used by York’s homeless community.
The organisers in Year 10, Orlaith, Sophie and Anna, said, “We wanted to find another, active way of raising awareness. We didn’t want to focus on raising money because it doesn’t necessarily make a difference in the long run, but a raised awareness can last a lifetime.”
The pupils’ inspiration came from examining the lives and work of Nobel Peace Laureates, and they wanted to find a local initiative to reduce extreme poverty.
“One of the ten ‘Billion Acts Of Peace’ topics is to reduce global poverty, so we have opted to bring this to York,” explains Orlaith. “This has become a much bigger job than we had at first realised.”
The ‘One Billion Acts of Peace’ campaign is a global citizens’ movement designed to tackle the most important problems facing humanity today.
The pupils began the evening with a screening of the film, “I, Daniel Blake”, which deals with poverty and the plight of the modern homeless community.
Helen Snelson (Head of History) who with Jackie Eccles (Head of Upper School) supervised the project, reported:
It’s 6.20AM at The Mount School and there was frost on the sleeping bags as we broke camp. Some people were really damp, while 6th former had slept in a hard alcove in the light to keep dry, but were more disturbed – difficult decisions! The dawn chorus was loud and the goods trains and sirens woke us up every time they went past. The overwhelming feeling from Year 10 is gratitude that we can go home for a hot shower. One Year 9 had a broken sleeping bag and it was horrible having no feeling in fingers and toes. Staff found the ground VERY hard! We know how lucky we are and will try to take having a home a little less for granted.
In 2012, a group of Sixth Form students at The Mount created a short film, examining prejudices, faced by York’s homeless, which enforce the cycle of dependency.