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Pupils Sleep Out at school to help local homeless people

Pupils at Chalkwell Hall Junior School are gearing up for HARP's Really Big South Essex Sleep Out.

We are inviting people to take part in The Really Big South Essex Sleep Out to raise awareness of just how tough it really is to sleep rough, and to raise much needed funds to enable us to reach out to more people in need.

At the event that takes place on or around Saturday 7th October, participants are encouraged to hold their own Sleep Out, and can either brave the elements with just a sleeping bag, or get the tent out and camp in the garden with the whole family. Chalkwell Hall Junior School put an interesting spin on the challenge last year by inviting pupils to sleep at the school, and they are planning on doing the same again this year after raising over £2,000 last time around!

Chalkwell Hall Juniors took the challenge seriously. Deputy Head Nick Hanshaw said “teaching core values and morals through all different subjects is a very important part of growing up and events like this help with pupils’ confidence and independence which in turn helps with their development in all different ways. Not only did the children raise lots of money but they are now more aware of homelessness and how difficult life on the streets can be.”

Homelessness is now a part of the curriculum and this challenge offers the perfect introduction to the sensitive and complex issue. Pupils from Chalkwell Hall Junior School spent the night being accountable for their belongings - like they would be if they were on the streets - and they learnt why some people are homeless, and what personal challenges they face. Through a variety of HARP assisted assemblies and discussions, the children learnt a great deal about homelessness, and the night away from their homes was more than just an expedition that was fuelled by excitement; it gave the children a real opportunity to stop and reflect on how it might feel to be homeless.

They ditched electronics for the night in favour of things that might be more accessible to someone that is homeless, and whilst some of the children said it was these home comforts that they missed the most, others said that being away from their family was tough. They all reported feeling tired the next day after a restless night but it would appear that the excitement of the challenge and companionship of their school friends made the experience a memorable one.

Although they all relished the independence, the event taught the children a lot about being homeless.

9 year old Edith said, “I think it would feel horrible to be homeless, I think it would be really hard. I struggled to get to sleep with just the sound of the cars - when you are out in the coldness and being right next to it with no shelter it would be extremely hard.”

Lisa Walton, our Community Fundraiser said “The Really Big South Essex Sleep Out is a fun way to engage children with an important local issue and educate and empower them to make a positive change in their communities. Last year, over 60 Sleep Outs were held across South Essex, and overall the event raised over £8,000. We hope to beat that target this October. We are encouraging other schools to follow in Chalkwell Hall’s footsteps and get involved. Participating in this event makes learning fun and will help HARP continue to reach out to those in need.”

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