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The big sleep-out

The Belvedere College SJ Annual Sleep-Out and Fast to raise money to tackle homelessness will take place from Tuesday 22 until Christmas Eve, Thursday 24 December. Leaders of the three well-known charities who will receive the money raised by the boys have been speaking out about the importance of the Sleep-Out, which has been running for thirty-two years and has become part of Dublin at Christmas.

Sr. Stan Kennedy, founder of Focus Ireland said: “The incredible commitment of Belvedere College and their support over the years has made a massive difference to our work. This type of help is vital, and it’s true to say that without it there are many people who we may not have been able to support over the years as we wouldn’t have had the resources. Every euro counts, and it’s amazing for Focus Ireland and the other charities that we have this great support every year.” She added that the money raised “goes directly into supporting our work to change lives and to help people to secure a home and move on from being homeless”.

The Peter McVerry Trust is also a recipient of money raised. Peter McVerry SJ said the annual Sleep-Out was a very important source of income for them. “The funding comes to us at a time when the demand for supports and services is at its highest,” he said, “so the funds raised means we can keep our doors open to those most in need.”

John Molloy, Director of Home Again, the charity which works with young homeless people, said, “The Belvedere boys’ Sleep-Out donation has been the single largest donation to Home Again every year since we were included on the list. It should be said that this donation is not just appreciated for its financial implications. It also represents a vindication to our staff that their work matters, and more importantly, that our young people deserve a ‘leg-up’ in society.

Last year the Belvedere students raised €183,000 including one anonymous donation of €10,000 for the Peter McVerry Trust. That along with other Sleep-Out money went towards homelessness prevention and accommodation services provided by the well-known charity.

Students on the organizing committee say that every year people and passersby are extremely generous and celebrities, sports stars and well known figures also drop by to support the Sleep-Out.
They are also hoping the recent storms don’t make a comeback. Normally, the students sleep in a tent, provided by the army. But one year a gale was blowing on the first night so the tent was evacuated and everyone spent the night under the GPO for safety reasons, amid fears that the huge Christmas tree might fall on the tent.  The fire brigade was even called as a precaution. Luckily, the weather was relatively mild, and as a result the students spent both nights outside even after it was safe to return to the tent.

The students have organized a Facebook page (where there’s news of a Sleep-Out selfie competition) and a twitter account: @belvosleepout. As well as giving in person, people can also donate online here.