Student sleepover at St John Bosco raises money for The Whitechapel Centre
50 pupils from Years 7 and 8 headed to the Storrington Avenue school for the sleepover, where they took part in activities and discussions around homelessness.
In true sleepover style, students watched movies, read books using torchlight and even created their own sturdy dens using cardboard boxes.
An on-site soup kitchen was set up especially for the event, and students could enjoy a hot bowl of soup, rolls and sandwiches.
Throughout the sleepover, pupils and staff spoke widely about homelessness, including the struggles, the dangers, and the ways to support those who do not have a home or the resources to escape unfortunate living situations.
Pupils even completed an interactive exercise that presented them with a real-life scenario. In groups, pupils were allocated an amount of fake money and had to budget the money to purchase items, replicating the real-life situations faced by people who are homeless.
This discussion was amplified by the visit of two guest speakers from The Whitechapel Centre, who informed students about homelessness in Liverpool, moving stories about people they have supported, and the vital work that the charity does.
In March 2023, it was reported that there were an estimated 300,000 houses in England that were homeless or at risk of homelessness.
The Whitechapel Centre is a Liverpool-based homeless and housing charity that provides support to rough sleepers, people living in temporary accommodation and those at risk of becoming homeless, 365 days a year.
Students were encouraged to bring a monetary donation to the sleepover, with a total of £245 raised so far. Fundraising is ongoing, and the school expects to receive more donations towards this fantastic cause.
The money will help support those sleeping rough, provide necessary items for those in need, education for local individuals, and more.
Mrs Tomkins, head of RE and Catholic life and organiser of the event, said: “The sleepover was a wonderful opportunity for our students to put their faith into action. As a Catholic college, everything we do is rooted in gospel values and Catholic teachings. We are called to serve the poorest within our community and to ‘Love our Neighbour’.”
Pupils shared how valuable and informative they found the sleepover.
Year 8 pupil Harriet said: “I found the talk from the Whitechapel Centre really interesting, especially hearing stories about why people find themselves homeless. I loved making the dens. It was a fun experience with my friends.”
While Year 7 pupil Nevaeh shared how exciting it was to sleep at the school. She said: “The sleepover was really good. I enjoyed watching the movie with treats and having the chance to sleep at school.”
Headteacher of St John Bosco, Mr Darren Gidman, said: “I am delighted to announce that St John Bosco Arts College has officially held its first school sleepover in aid of the homeless. The event was an opportunity for our students to learn more about homelessness and raise vital funds for The Whitechapel Centre. Students had a fantastic time and were eager to learn more about how they could help.
“The winter period presents the greatest health risks to those who are homeless or sleeping rough and it is so important that as a community we come together to support those people and ensure their safety.
“At St John Bosco Arts College, we value love and hope, and we believe that it is important to show this not only in our school community but the wider community too; we must take care of one another.”