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 SVDP Sleepout 2015

Our night began at 6pm, we set our sleeping bags aside and waited, wondering what the night would bring. At about 6:30 invited guests from St Vincent De Paul, Food for Seasons, and Youth Care came to talk to us about their work in our community. We broke off into small groups and were given the opportunity to ask our own questions to our guests. It was really interesting to find out how many people in our small Hervey Bay community are struggling and are in need of help from these organisations. After an hour we had undergone a lot of information and discussion and were ready to have a hot milo or coffee (something many of us considered a luxury considering we were putting ourselves in the shoes of the homeless). After more discussion and a somewhat friendly game of ninja we said goodbye to our guests and thanked them for giving up their time to share with us their stories and their amazing work and progress in the Hervey bay area.  Following this we played a game where we were given a scenario of a person. Once we had understood everything about our person; their name, culture, income, health, and living conditions, we moved into JPAC. We all began in the centre and Mrs Donnelly called out everyday situations, leaving us to decide whether our person was capable of affording each. Many of us were shocked to see how with such little income we can miss out on so much, including a secure place to sleep. As we returned inside many of us were quite processing that a game that we played is unfortunately reality for many Australians. Our tummies were now rumbling and at 9:00 we had a cup of soup, prepared by our awesome Magis Mini’s students. With a little bit of fuel we were all ready for our next presentation, from Hannah, Ellie and Jenny. The girls spoke of their Brisbane Immersion trip in term 1 this year. They really enforced how serious the issue is and how little is needed to make someone feel wanted in their community. We were all very inspired by all three girls and loved hearing how they were women for others during their time in Brisbane. Our night was soon coming to end many of us struggling to keep their eyes open. Before bed we had a liturgy and all shared how we were a man or woman like Jesus. This was a lovely way to end the night, thanking God and asking him to watch over those who are ‘sleeping rough’ in our community. At 11:00 we hopped into our sleeping bags and went to sleep (many of us were up all night!).

At 5:00am we rose, just as the homeless would all over Australia. We had a basic breakfast and got into our school uniforms. We then joined together in prayer and we all shared about our experience. Here is what some students thought of the sleep out; 

Madi: Before we went to bed we learnt about Youth Care and what they do, Food 4 seasons and what they do and also SVDP and what they do. As it was a very late night to bed and was quite uncomfortable. We woke up very early and learnt more about St Vincent de Paul.

Lucinda: This was a very fun but uncomfortable night, sleeping on the floor with a sleeping bag and a pillow. We were lucky to have a roof over our head, when others don’t. We had lots of fun activities and had a chat with some people from, Food 4 Seasons, Youth Care and St Vincent De Paul. It was a very good experience.

Lauren: The sleep out has been a very eye opening event for us all. It’s made us realise that we have the power to make a difference in our society.  What stops us from making a difference in our society is the fear of being rejected by others.  There a steps that can be taken to make an impact on to our society whether it be by learning about the issue or raising awareness for other or making a real statement and giving a helping hand to those who really need it.   

Sahra: This was my first school sleep out and it was the best. I made lots of friends. I found out that 7,500 families are without homes and are mostly single. My favourite thing was when we all played ninja and it made me feel like we are all like family. The sleep was so uncomfortable compared to when I am with my warm bed in a house.

Amy: My favourite part of the SVDP sleep out was that we got to experience what it is like being homeless and what it feels like to not having technology. We had soup for dinner and hot milo or coffee. We got to speak to people who look after homeless people. In the end I thought it was amazingly fun.

Patrick: I didn’t realise how many support groups; such as Vinnies, Youth Care, and Comfort Kitchen are set up in Hervey Bay.

Sophie: I was unaware of the age of people that are homeless, I thought middle aged men were the common homeless people but it is more likely to be families with young children which is quite alarming.

Cree: Something that I took out of the experience was putting a name to the face of a homeless person and really letting them know their worth in their community. The impact that organizations such as Vinnies, Youth Care, and Comfort Kitchen have on the homeless in our local community is admirable and have inspired me to do more for those in need.   

Hannah G: it was really eye-opening to see what really goes on in our world and just what homelessness is and the statistics behind homelessness in Australia. And even though we did it “tough” for the night so many other people do it so much worse if anything we slept in luxury compared to what they have.

Overall it was a great night sleeping rough and learning about homelessness within our local and wider community. We extend our thanks to the teachers that gave up their time for us to be able to have such and insightful experience. If you have never participated before and you are in year 7-12 we all encourage you to participate next year. Hannah, Ellie and Jenny are welcome to speak to any year 11’s that are interested in the Brisbane immersion next year also.

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