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“I feel a new level of awareness”: Novi Sleepout teaches boys valuable lessons on homelessness

Tonbridge's Novi Sleepout 2024

“Your story completely changed my view on homeless people and their positions in life. It has opened my eyes.” These are the words of one of Tonbridge’s First Years who, alongside the rest of his year, spent the night of Tuesday 21 May taking part in the annual Novi Sleepout.  

By sleeping rough in the Quad, the boys raised funds for Porchlight, a Kent-based charity supporting the most vulnerable on the county’s streets.

To date the event has raised more than £23,500 (including Gift Aid), and there is still time to donate via the link.

The Quad was transformed into a ‘cardboard city’, with boys in House-based groups constructing shelters for the night. Bolstered by warming soup served up by the Lower Sixth, the Novi soon gained insights into the reality of life on the streets as they tried to settle down on a wet night. 

Boys also heard a moving talk from ‘Mossy’, who is employed by Porchlight as a coach and keyworker. Mossy explained how bereavement and addiction led him to life on the streets, before he found help in the services of Porchlight and, ultimately, was able to share his story to help others.  

Pupils spent the following morning on a series of challenges, run by Porchlight and the School, designed to make them think about routes into homelessness and the unfairness of life.  

Boys were also tasked with putting together a budget, as if they were running their own homes with only universal credit as income, deciding which basic needs and costs they would prioritise.  

One activity was to write a postcard to Porchlight (or to their local MP) about their experiences. Two examples are as follows:
“Lasting just one night was so much harder than I expected, and I feel a new level of awareness towards the struggle of homeless people.“

“The talk you gave completely changed my perspective. I hadn’t thought about how every homeless person has a back story.”

Kate Boulding, Community Fundraising Manager for Porchlight, said: “We are so grateful to all of you at Tonbridge. Your backing enables us to keep offering our vital services, despite cuts in funding. Your engagement also shows those we are supporting that they are important and valuable.” 

Tonbridge thanks all those who supported this year’s Sleepout so generously, as well as Furniture Village, Tunbridge Wells, for the supply of cardboard, and Countrystyle for the recycling.

The Sleepout is pictured above and below.


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