The Big Sleep Out 2021

Over 100 pupils and staff brave the cold for one night to raise money for three local charities and raise awareness about homelessness and rough sleeping, during 'The Big Sleep Out 2021'.

From 6pm Thursday 4th November to 7am Friday 5th November over 100 pupils and staff from St Christopher’s Church of England Academy and Sixth Form spent the night sleeping outside in the school grounds raising money for Child Action North West, Maundy Relief and Nightsafe Blackburn. Their aim, to help these worthwhile charity organisations and raise awareness about homelessness and rough sleeping.

Pictured Left to right is Evie (Senior Eco Team), Beccy Murrell from Maundy Relief, Amy (Eco Team), Mr Jones St Christopher’s Headmaster and Amy (Senior Eco Team) all pupils from Year 10.

“We are hugely grateful to the amazing pupils and staff of St Christopher's School for braving the extremely cold weather and sleeping out for the night to raise both money and awareness for the plight of the homeless. Those taking part are experiencing for themselves something of what it is like to not have a roof over your head, or know where your next meal is coming from. Maundy Relief will use the money donated to fund emergency food parcels and housing services for homeless, vulnerable and excluded people, and will distribute soup made by the pupils to those that need it. Thank you so much!”

Beccy Murrell, Operations Manager, Maundy Relief.

It was going to be a long couple of days for all concerned as both pupils and staff would be in school from Thursday morning right through to the close on Friday afternoon!

The only comforts they had were sleeping bags, warm clothes, and a sheet of cardboard to sleep on (much more than most have), but before they bedded down for the night they all helped to make vegetable soup which was to be delivered by staff to the homeless charities to use that night. This was possible thanks to the generosity from parents, Tesco (Accrington) and Asda (Accrington) for kindly donating plenty of potatoes, carrots and onions (to name but a few). In previous years they have produced 300 portions, this year they smashed that total with over 700!

Beccy Murrell, Amy and St Christopher’s staff all pitch-in to help make the soup for the homeless charities.

Pictured left to right is Jess and Charlotte from Year 10 busy checking that the soup is boiling nicely.

The Year 9s take a number of selfies throughout the night.

The night started off well, but as the temperature plummeted the realisation of what people must go through on a daily basis really set-in. To help paint more of a picture for the pupils about the things the homeless community go through, we had guest speakers from Child Action North West and Nightsafe Blackburn visit.

“I chose to participate in the Sleep Out as I wanted to experience – just for one night – what many people have no choice but to do every day. I wanted to raise awareness for homeless people and to help them in any way I can. We didn’t get much sleep and we were freezing cold but it only gave me more sympathy and respect for people on the streets.”

Milly, Year 10

“It has been really rewarding for all those involved, staff and students, to get a glimpse of the harsh realities that those living on the streets face everyday. On the night itself, students worked hard to prepare and cook soup for our local charities to use in community lunches, believing that, as part of the event, they themselves would go hungry for the night. At 9pm, we surprised students by providing them with portions of the soup they had made, and they were so grateful, knowing that they were due to be without food until the following morning! As the temperature dropped to 1 degree, students kept morale high by arranging a talent contest, before preparing to hanker down for the night on beds of cardboard in the courtyard. Throughout the event our students demonstrated the resilience and positivity we knew would get them through. We are so proud of what they have achieved.”

Leanne Williamson, Head of Year 10

At around 9:30pm a number of staff arrived as a surprise to set-up a ‘soup kitchen’ for the pupils, delivering homemade soup and hot chocolate. This certainly raised the spirits and made them all realise what kindness means, and how important it is for those less fortunate than themselves. Once everyone had eaten and got slightly warmed-up it was time to bed down, but as you might imagine not much sleeping went on at first with the excitement leading to lots of teenage chatter. Eventually though fatigue set in, thankfully!

Rach and Amy from Child Action North West came to offer their support during the night.

Wendy Litherland, the schools Director of Sustainability added…

"Teenagers are both resilient and innovative. The fact so many were prepared to work through the evening preparing soup, as well as ditching their mobile phones, an evening meal and warm beds to highlight the plight of those less fortunate, gives society hope. I and the rest of the school community are incredibly proud.”

Majority of the pupils and staff get together for a group photo and play a number of games at the start of the night.

Rachel Shovelton from the Friend’s of St Christopher’s (FoSC) helps to serve the well needed soup and hot chocolate!

Year 9 boys bed down for the night.

As the sun rose a lot of tired and cold teenagers slowly came too, and were happy that the night was over and that they wouldn’t have to endure it again, but reflective on what they had done and what it means to so many. The news that they had raised over £2,500.00 put plenty of smiles on faces and hopefully made the school day a little brighter, but everyone (teachers included) couldn’t wait to get home for the weekend!

Thank you to everyone who helped us raise such a fantastic amount and a special thank you to all those that donated food and cardboard without which we wouldn’t have been able to complete this challenge.