Published: 16:11, 08 April 2019
| Updated: 16:12, 08 April 2019
Pupils slept rough to experience what it is like to be one of the hundreds of homeless people living on the streets in Kent.
Youngsters at the Hartsdown Academy in Margate spent the night outside at the school raising money for homelessness support charity Porchlight after hearing about the shocking situation on the streets across the county.
They have raised more than £1,700 for the charity which works across Kent to help people struggling on the streets.
Sixth formers slept outside on cardboard and sleeping bags on March 29 with many of them saying how difficult they found the experience for just one night.
Mandy Simmons, the school's outreach and communications director, says the school is pleased to support Porchlight and were sparked into action after hearing about the plight on the streets in Thanet.
She said: "They were shocked to see how many people are homeless here in Thanet and wanted to do something to raise awareness of the situation here.
"They had chosen to sleep rough throughout the night, sleeping on cardboard with nothing but blankets or sleeping bags."
The A-level students were joined by pupils from Year 10 and 11 as well as the school's head teacher Matthew Tate, the executive head teach of the Coastal Academies Trust (for Dane Court, King Ethelbert and Hartsdown), Paul Luxmore, and staff from Hartsdown Academy.
The group settled down after Pizza Hut sponsored the sleep out and delivered dinner and were welcomed to a hot breakfast courtesy of McDonald's the following morning.
Porchlight says it fears the homelessness crisis in Kent shows "no sign of ending" and is likely to affect future generations in years to come.
The charity's spokesman, Chris Thomas, said: "The money they raised will help people who are homeless today, but taking part in the sleep out will allow them to grow up with a better understanding of some of the struggles that rough sleepers face every day and the knowledge that they can help to drive change.
"We know that homelessness is more common in areas of deprivation – including some Kent coastal towns.
"That’s why we’ve committed more resources to the areas as part of the Rough sleeper Intervention, Support and Empowerment (RISE) project with Thanet council and other support organisations. Working together, we’re making a difference to people’s lives.
"Ultimately, though, until central government accepts the awful consequences of existing legislation and starts to invest properly in real solutions to the homelessness crisis – including more social housing – people will continue to be driven onto the streets where their problems will only get worse."
To support the Hartsdown pupils in their cause for Porchlight donate via the school's fundraising page.