West Suffolk College students sleep rough to highlight homelessness

Students from West Suffolk College slept rough outside the main entrance to the college.

Students from West Suffolk College slept rough outside the main entrance to the college. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Ten teenagers braved the cold, wet weather for a night to raise awareness of homelessness and gain first-hand experience of what it is like to sleep rough.

The group of public services and sports students from West Suffolk College undertook the challenge as part of the social action project they need to complete to graduate from the National Citizen Service Programme.

With just the clothes they were wearing and a sleeping bag, they camped outside the college in Bury St Edmunds for 12 hours.

Lecturer Phil Green, head of positive futures, said: “The idea came from while they were away on residential and had to camp and take part in bushcraft activities.

“The students asked what it must be like to have to live like this all the time and felt that we take things for granted when we are at home.”

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He said most of the youngsters completed the challenge wet, damp and cold but they “all did really well with very little fuss or complaining”.

Mr Green added: “They have all gone home now to warm up and sleep but they should be very proud of themselves.

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“I think they learned a great deal about what it would be like to be homeless and how much people would be suffering in this bad weather.”

Some of the students also gave up food and phones for the 12 hours. One of them said: “I just wanted to challenge myself and see how I would cope in this situation.”

Following the challenge, the students will compile a video and an article to highlight the issues facing homeless people, especially at this time of year.

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