St Edmunds College students Joel Marschke (bottom), Alfred Durutamata and Jake Biddle sleep out.
St Edmunds College students Joel Marschke (bottom), Alfred Durutamata and Jake Biddle sleep out. Rob Williams

Lesson in life of the homeless

TWENTY-FIVE St Edmund's College students braved dreary weather to sleep outside on concrete steps on Friday night, and ate only rice for breakfast on Saturday.

Despite the bleak conditions, student organisers Jake Biddle, Joel Marchske and Alfred Durutamata said they were happy to take part in the night as it raised awareness about the reality of youth homelessness.

"I think it will open everyone's eyes as to what not having a home is really like," Year 11 student Joel Marschke said on Friday afternoon.

"It's all very minimal, we've only brought pillows, sleeping bags and some mattresses.

"We'll be having the same barbecue dinner that we provide to people in Queens Park as part of Footprints in the Park, and for breakfast there'll just be plain rice."

Year 11 student Jake Biddle said the event was also a fundraiser.

"We're hoping to raise more than $1000 for the Ipswich Independent Youth Service, too.

"They have two shelters for young homeless people and they will put the money to good use.

"It's going to be a cold night, and we'll be woken up by ambient noises that will be happening to make the experience more realistic, so we probably won't sleep too well," Jake said.

Teacher and director of Service Learning Keith Halpin said he was overwhelmed at the students' motivation to organise and take part in the event.

"The idea and most of the organising was the students' doing, it's a very student-driven event," Mr Halpin said.

"The 25 students will be supervised by four staff members, including myself, and we'll certainly feel more empathetic and compassionate through taking part in the night," Mr Halpin said on Friday afternoon.

"We're doing a 40-day fundraising campaign and this kicks it off, there will also be a blanket drive and food drive."



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