Shoebury High School students and staff slept under the stars to raise much needed funds and awareness for children and young people on the cusp of homelessness.
The school, based on Caulfield Road, held a Sleep Easy event on Friday 17th October for local leading children's charity, Southend YMCA.
Based on the flagship Southend YMCA Sleep Easy, which was first held in March 2013, participants slept rough overnight for 12 hours, raising awareness and much needed funds for youth homelessness. This time 75 students and staff slept within the grounds of their school, bedding down for the night in cardboard boxes and fort-like structures made to house multiple students.
The event was planned and delivered by students from years 12 & 13, giving them valid fundraising, PR, recruitment and event management experience and the chance to help those less fortunate then themselves.
"The students exceeded all of my expectations and put on an incredible event"
Tom Moulton, Sleep Easy Coordinator said.
"The event décor and cardboard structures they made were a testament to the creativity and vision of the schools students. I was particularly impressed with their diary room which was made with original artwork, fairy lights and ivory. Their hard work and dedication will leave a lasting legacy in Southend, with all the sponsorship going towards housing development for move-on accommodation."
This Sleep Easy is one in a number since the campaign began in Southend in 2013. Other events have also been held at Westcliff High School for Girls, Leigh Road Baptist Church, Essex Girl Guides and Southend YMCA Community School.
After the event, young people shared their experiences:
"Doing this with friends made it fun but imagining having to do this alone somewhere I don't know, it would be terrifying." said Halima Surat
Efua Yamson shared 'We may be doing this for just one night but it is very hard to imagine a homeless young person enduring longer colder nights of sleeping outside without any protection.'
Southend YMCA invites other secondary schools to take part and support vulnerable and disadvantaged young people of a similar age to the students. Syrie Cox, CEO for the organisation said:
"We want to instil an understanding of youth homelessness amongst ours schools and its students in our community. Sleep Easy in Schools gives the students the opportunity to help make homelessness history in our town and provide them with the information to understand the risks and dangers that homeless young people suffer."
To support the students and the work of Southend YMCA please visit www.justgiving.com/SleepEasySHS or text SHSE14 £10 to 70070.