St Andrew's Cathedral School

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Students opt for rough night over soft beds


A group of Year 11 students have decided to spend a night outside, forsaking the comforts of a warm bed and shelter. It’s all part of ‘Roughtober’, a community sleepout event raising money for people experiencing homelessness and marginalisation.

Students experience ‘sleeping rough’ for Roughtober.

On Friday 15 October, a group of Year 11 students will ‘sleep rough’ in their own backyards as part of a fundraising effort to support Sydney’s marginalised and vulnerable community. The students are raising money for Rough Edges Cafe, a drop-in centre in Darlinghurst which provides much-needed food and community to people who are experiencing homelessness in Sydney.

Students will sleep with nothing but a sleeping bag and will have limited access to shelter. The experience is designed to recreate, in at least some small way, the trials experienced by over 800 people in the City of Sydney alone.

COVID-19 restrictions have prevented students from sleeping at St John’s Anglican Church in Darlinghust, as they normally would in previous years. However, the students will join a Zoom call with Rough Edges organisers in order to hear from people who have experienced homelessness. The online meeting, alongside the experience of sleeping rough, will give students a better understanding of what it’s like to live without safe and affordable housing.

“Sleeping rough for one night is obviously nothing compared to the hardships that many of  our Sydney population go through on a daily basis but it gives us the opportunity to be appreciative of what we do have and how lucky we are to live the way we live,” said Year 11 student Madeleine Marshall.

“I don’t think people understand how privileged we are, so this will be a great outlook in the life of someone living it rough on a daily basis,” added Year 11 student Per Eberhardt.

The students say they were motivated to participate in the sleep-out because of their experiences of going to a school in the city. St Andrew’s Cathedral School is located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD and students observe the plight of some of Sydney’s marginalised and vulnerable community on an almost daily basis. ‘Roughtober’ has provided students with an opportunity to respond to what they have observed. For many, the event is also a timely response to the isolating impact of COVID-19 which has proved especially challenging for those in our community who already face social isolation because of their homelessness.

“It’s so important for our community to keep supporting charities even during this tough lockdown,” said Olivia Bishara, also a Year 11 student participating in the Roughtober event. “I think the sleep-out will be eye-opening, especially since people have been doing it rough in the midst of the pandemic, so we want to do as much as we can to help!”