Case Studies
Homelessness Sleepout at Wimbledon College


To raise awareness of the issue of homelessness through a personal experience of the students sleeping rough and encounter with real life stories. The event also seeks to embody the idea of a ‘Faith that does Justice’ including prayerful reflection and leading to practical action. One practical result is raising of money to support local homelessness charities by getting sponsored to sleep rough.

Outline of the Evening

Talks by homeless charities and their service users – We invited the two homelessness charities we were raising money for to come into the school and talk a little bit about how their charity was helping those who were homeless. Both these charities were asked to invite some of their service users to come along and talk to the students about their personal stories, how they ended up homeless, what the reality is like. – This has a big impact on the students and usually a very shocking realisation that they are just ordinary people like us and there but by the grace of God go I.

Soup bread and informal chat – We held the talks in our chapel and then the rest of the evening took place outside. Starting with a soup kitchen serving everyone (especially our guest speakers) tea, coffee, soup and bread. This was also a chance for the students to talk in small groups and more informally with our guests who had come to share their story with us.

Busking by some of the pupils – to keep spirits up and a community feel to the evening we followed the informal chat time with some busking . By this time our guests had headed back.

9.15 - 9.45pm
Isolation – to bring the mood of the evening back into a more reflective tone and to give the students an idea of the loneliness and boredom that must be involved in sleeping rough, we sent them off to find a spot on their own to be still and silent for 30mins.

9.45 - 10.30pm
Reflection – We then split all the students into small groups to go away and discuss their experiences so far. After a while we brought around a lit candle and some prayer material for the small groups to bring their reflections to a prayerful conclusion.

Set up beds – to avoid commotion after Mass, we sent the students around the playground to set up their spot for sleeping, layout their cardboard and get their sleeping bags ready (luckily no rain so we could leave these things set up.

Mass – we finished the evening with Mass in the playground on a Altar surrounded by bits of cardboard with prayers and messages on (which they had completed at the end of the group reflections earlier in the evening). The Mass outside in the cold was simple, atmospheric and moving.

Bed – The students now calmed down and reflective from the Mass were dismissed quietly to go to their sleeping area and get to bed.

until 12.30pm
Staff patrolled the playground quietening everyone down and making sure people were going to sleep and not talking.

Wake up

Morning Examen reflecting on the whole experience.

Bacon Butties, tea, coffee, thanks and clear up.

Go home and catch up on some sleep!


James Potter
Lay Chaplain
Wimbledon College
November 2011