STUDENTS and staff at a Solihull school have gone the extra mile for rough sleepers during the festive period, raising £2,700 for homeless charities.
St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School on Fordbridge Road, Kingshurst, staged two sponsored sleepovers this Christmas.
The idea was inspired by deputy headteacher Kieran Scanlon who volunteers at Tabor House which is one of Birmingham’s only permanent night shelters.
He wanted children to gain an insight into what it’s like to be without a home.
Children were encouraged to raise £10 in sponsorship each to donate to Tabor House and other homeless charities in Birmingham.
About 80 pyjama-clad children slept in the school hall over the two nights with 12 staff member giving up their time to stage various activities.
This included games, watching films and constructing their own model houses covered with words reflecting what they would miss about their homes.
During collective worship, children placed their model houses – containing lit candles – to make a vigil spelling out the word ‘HOME’. This was intended to mark all the comforts their homes and families provide.
Although not an exact simulation of the conditions the homeless are forced to endure, staff wanted to promote empathy among the students as numbers of rough sleepers in the region continue to soar.
Mr Scanlon said: “The part that I am most proud to have witnessed was the children and their attitude.
“The compassion they have displayed throughout the project, the eagerness to help others less fortunate, and the interest they have shown in the homeless shelter shows just how special our children are.”
Headteacher Cieran Flaherty said: “Altogether the children raised over £2,700 which I think is incredible given the deprivation levels of the area in which the school is situated and as we approach this expensive time of year for our community.
“I just feel it is something that makes me feel very humbled and proud of our children given lots of people have prejudged ideas about the local area.”
Year five student Kacey said: “The best part was putting our houses down on the altar in the silent church.
“We got to reflect on how lucky we are to have our own houses.”
Year six student Daniel said: “I enjoyed the variety of games and staying up well past my bed time. I usually go to church on a Sunday, so it was special to go so late at night in the darkness.”