On a chilly Saturday night, 112 Oundle School pupils and seven members of staff headed to Birmingham to experience a night under cardboard in a car park at St Basil’s, one of the largest and most successful agencies in the United Kingdom working with young homeless people.
For one night, pupils had a taste of the reality experienced by the thousands of people in the UK who sleep rough. It is hoped that as well as raising awareness of the plight of homeless people, the SleepOut will raise in excess of £8000 for the charity. Various talks on the work of St Basil’s were given throughout the evening by organisers and residents.
Liz Dillarstone, Head of Community Action at Oundle School, commented: “We hope that our pupils will gain a deeper understanding of homeless issues as a result of this exercise and that they will be inspired by the work of St Basils, which relies heavily on fundraising to support its programme. St Basil’s provides this bespoke event for our bi-annual Community Action Field Weekend.”
Oundle pupils with St Basil’s representatives
Fundraising Organiser at St Basil’s, Steve Rainbow, commented: ‘Oundle School has been involved with the St Basils SleepOut for many years and has helped develop it into the event it is today. This latest branch of SleepOut has been tailor made to suit the requirements of the School in fulfilling its community work programme and it is something that could be rolled out to other large schools who wish to raise awareness of homelessness to their pupils. Oundle hopes to raise over £8000 from this venture and in doing so continue the support it has given St Basil’s in their fight against youth homelessness.’
Today St Basil’s is the largest regional organisation in the UK working with young people who are homeless or in danger of homelessness. Every year St Basil’s supports up to 5000 16-25 year olds, accommodates over 1,000 helping them with advice, education and support.’ In 2000 Rev Les Milner retired and, unfortunately, passed away two years later.
The new Chief Executive, Jean Templeton, came with a housing background and a zeal for growing on the foundations that Les had laid. The new St Basil’s continues to see young people as its absolute priority and has grown into a ground-breaking innovative organisation that works with partners across Local Government, Industry and Commerce, Housing Associations and many others.
St Basil’s has been recognised as’ the national Registered Social Landlord ‘RSL’ Centre of Excellence in the prevention of youth homelessness and one of the largest agencies in the United Kingdom working with young people who may be at risk of homelessness or actually homeless.