Our relationship with SPEAR, a local Charity based in Twickenham whose outreach team encounter people on their first steps from homelessness to independence, has been ongoing for a number of years now. One of our events is now repeated annually where our Year 6 pupils participate in a Sleepover in the Runcie Hall, to spend the night in their own home-made cardboard shelter, visited by a representative from SPEAR to fully appreciate the circumstances which can contribute to homelessness.
The charity provide pathways and support to assist people off the streets in the boroughs of Richmond, Wandsworth, Kingston, and Sutton.
Our pupils are provided with a basic meal and are able to join in with the experience together, and one of our teachers remarked, “Whilst the girls certainly enjoyed the novelty of sleeping over in School, they did display a commendable level of maturity and understanding about the issue of homelessness. They listened well to our visitor and asked lots of sensible questions to find out more about the many ways in which everybody can help.”
Our charity lead, Miss Fox, writes.
“An experience never to forget, our Year 6s bustled through the doors with sleeping bags and cardboard boxes, ready to create their camps for the night. We had girls in boxes, on boxes, and everything in between. We met Pete, an outreach worker, working with SPEAR to support people who find themselves living on the streets. Pete explained his role; he explained the many ways he helps homeless people get off the streets or stay safer on the streets such as: providing hats and scarves, Oyster cards to get around, mobile phones to help with work prospectives, college courses – all with the aim to get them into accommodation and off the streets completely. We learnt how we can help someone who is homeless by simply flagging them to charities like SPEAR via an app called Street Link; this means someone can locate them and offer support. We didn’t have as much sleep as the teachers would have liked, but we enjoyed being together and understanding more about the charity we have raise money for each year.”
Our journalists Isabella and Maya, and our Head Girl Anna, report the following:
“Our relationship with SPEAR has been ongoing for a number of years and the breadth of activity has included Shoe Boxes at Christmas to individual fund raising. One of the events that we do at Surbiton is where our Year 6 pupils participate in a Sleepover in the Runcie Hall to spend the night in their own home-made cardboard shelter, visited by a representative from SPEAR to fully appreciate the circumstances which can contribute to homelessness.
We all bustled through the doors with sleeping bags and cardboard boxes ready to create our camps for the night, then we started talking to our friends about the busy night ahead. We had girls in boxes, on boxes and everything in between. After lots of building our shelters, we were all ready to start eating the food that the lovely kitchen staff had prepared for us. The next event of the evening was a talk from an outreach worker named Pete, from SPEAR. Pete explained his role by explaining the many ways he helps homeless people get off the streets or stay safer on the streets such as: providing hats and scarves, Oyster cards to get around, mobile phones to help with work prospectives, college courses, all with the aim to get them into accommodation and off the streets completely. We asked lots of questions and found out about what it is like to be homeless and how SPEAR help them feel like they are worth it. Afterwards we carried on building our dens and then enjoyed playing small group games. Following on, we had hot chocolate as a little late night snack. When it was time for bed, we all brushed our teeth and started to relax. Then we were asked to turn out our lights and go to bed. Although it was the end of the special evening, we all knew how important it was that we knew about how it is like to be homeless and how lucky we are to have the things that we have. Overall it was an amazing night that everyone loved, and the whole of Year 6 really appreciate Pete coming in to talk to us about the reality of others’ lives. We also just want to say a massive thank you to the kitchen staff for preparing the food for our dinner and all of the staff that made sure we had an amazing night.”