Young Londoners sleep rough to help rough sleepers

girls preparing to bed down for the night

girls preparing to bed down for the night

Nine students from St Dominic's Sixth Form College, staged a sponsored sleep-out recently, to raise fund for projects suporting homeless young people who sleep on the streers every day. Shriya Lathia, Meera Patel, Sahiba Lal tell their story.

Action for Change is part of St Dominic's Sixth Form College Wednesday afternoon activities programme. This term our aim was to take action to challenge poverty and we focussed on the issue of homelessness among young people in London.

on 29 September, nine students from the College visited the Cardinal Hume Centre in Westminster, which accommodates 40 homeless people. During the visit we learnt that people often became homeless, for reasons such as abuse, rejection by their family, drugs and alcohol abuse, mental illness and asylum seekers.

However, the most shocking thing we learnt was that the vast majority of homeless people in the Cardinal Hume Centre were 16-24 year olds. This is a growing issue in the country, as there are between 52,000 and 60,000 young people homeless in the UK today. These people are in great need of help and the Cardinal Hume Centre  not only provides a roof over their head, but also medical care, a crèche and a children’s play area, counselling, legal help and support to develop skills they need to get a job. This has been such an eye-opening experience for all of us, and we'd like to thank the  Cardinal Hume Centre for letting us into their lives and giving us a chance to spend  an afternoon with them.

To do something practical to help the Centre we decided to hold a sponsored sleep-out. We collected lots of cardboard boxes  to sleep under and set up on the covered walkway beside the college library. We managed to stay out for the whole night although it was really cold with temperatures hovering around 5 C. We got up next morning with sore knees and backs due to the hard surface we had made our 'beds' on.  However we had friends around to keep us company and a hot kettle nearby. More  importantly we had  the knowledge that even if we were doing something as wild as this, we were safe and secure, which is not a feeling one would get if we were sleeping out on the street, always afraid of what might happen next.

Our experience may  have been be far from how it really is, for so many people in this country and elsewhere, but it did open our eyes to the harsh reality faced by many homeless people on a regular basis, especially during the winter months. one in eight homeless young people experience sleeping on the street at least once in their lifetime and we shudder to think that what we did for one night, was an everyday routine for  some people our age!

We have raised about £1000 so far but the Centre has a great need for funds because 50% of their income currently comes from voluntary donations. The Centre has only 40 beds and every time one  becomes available there are 12 applicants for the place. Most of us are lucky enough to have a roof over our heads and we should give those who are not as fortunate as ourselves by supporting the Cardinal Hume Centre.

If you would like to support the work of the Cardinal Hume Centre  and help young people to transform their lives this Christmas please visit our Just Giving page at

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