Well, we survived our first Anglicare WA Sleep Out, and what an amazing night it was! Cold and wet but such an incredible experience for all involved. The event allowed students to mix with students from different schools and experienced what it is like for young homeless people trying to get help. The night involved an interactive simulation where participants were required to acquire food, crisis accommodation, clothing, ID, money from Centrelink and other items, but each time they were met with complications. These are all real-life situations that are faced by people on the street each night.

Supper was a cup of soup and roll and then it was time to find our beds (one piece of cardboard) and try get some sleep. Many layers were added and even then, the cold seeped through. Throughout the night alarms, sirens, dogs barking, lights coming on and constant noise kept everyone awake. This was again, designed to simulate life on the streets. We were the lucky ones not asked to move on by security (some schools experienced this – woken up and told to move as homeless people can encounter at times) and managed a short nap before being woken up at 6am

The Year 10s were fantastic. Well behaved, enthusiastically engaged with the activities and having fun throughout the whole event. A few lessons we learnt for next year: a summer sleeping bag is not warm enough even with three layers of clothes (a lesson for me). and a camping mat would be preferable to cardboard (a lesson for Ms Yates).

A huge thank you to everyone involved. We had 20 out of 27 Year 10 students attend and were one of the biggest groups on the night. Teachers also had the option of sleeping away from their students in a warm room. Most other schools took up this option but not us! We were there with our students living the experience. Thank you to Mr Pree and Mrs Beutel for driving us and braving the bad weather (and for taking us to McDonald’s for breakfast the next morning) and to Mrs Gastevich, Mr Marlow and Ms Yates for putting their hands up to come along and help supervise the group with me.

The event was not only a learning experience but also a valuable fundraiser. Team St James’ proudly raised $3,886 which will go towards keeping the Anglicare WA Street Connect Bus on the road each night.

Mrs Stacey Syme


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