Vinnies Sleepout at home

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23 June 2020

Vinnies sleepout at homeStudents and families at Marymede Catholic College, South Morang, and Mount Lilydale Mercy College, Lilydale, have attempted to experience a sense of solidarity with the homeless by having a sleepout at home: eating simple food, sleeping in a tent or on cardboard, on the patio or in the backyard.

On Friday afternoon, a number of Marymede students participated in a workshop with Vinnies Youth Resource Officer, Sarah Taylor, to gain an understanding of the context of homelessness before they began their ‘Winter Camp-out at Home’. The next morning, student Faith and mission captains Rachel and Jacob facilitated a Zoom debrief session, and the overwhelming experience of the participants was one of discomfort and the realisation that they have more choice than those who are vulnerable.

Boyan, in Year 7, said: ‘The main thing I took from this night is all the repercussions and side effects of homelessness, and how they don’t choose to be homeless and live with the consequences.’

Franswa, in Year 5, said: ‘I feel bad for the homeless people because they don’t get to sleep in homes; they sleep outside in the cold rainy night and they don’t get to eat a lot of food. My experience last time was I was cold and hungry, and I was thinking about the homeless people last night because of the cold rainy weather.’

Arsh, in Year 7, said: ‘I realised how all the noise from the road can keep you up all night and how uncomfortable it is to sleep on cardboard. It made me think of homeless people who have to go through it every day.’

At Mount Lilydale Mercy College, families were given a simple liturgy and encouraged to share a simple meal with the option to watch The Blind Side as a family before doing the sleepout.

One parent shared: ‘We reflected on the major contribution of charities, particularly church groups such as St Vinnies, to support the homeless. This led to a discussion with my husband and younger daughter about some of the issues of homelessness locally and in Victoria.’

Another parent reflected: ‘How lucky I am to have a bed! We are so blessed to have access to these basic necessities and we need to stop taking it all for granted.’

The school also raised close to $3000 for the St Vincent de Paul Society.