The Belvedere College SJ sleepout was a record breaking success this year. The students sleeping on O’Connell St and the past pupils round the corner on College Green raised €178,000 for Focus Ireland, The Peter McVerry Trust and Home Again. During the usually more lonely hours of late night and early morning they provided tea and coffee on tap for people with no homes to go to, the chat sometimes ending up in a sing song, accompaniment provided by a guitar-playing student.
The 31st sleepout took place in a year when the issue of homelessness hit the headlines and captured public attention with the death of homeless man Jonathan Corrie on a street right beside the Dáil shortly before Christmas. And when the numbers of homeless people sleeping rough on the street hit record numbers. This prompted journalist Rosita Boland to question whether it was time for a re-think regarding the students raising money by sleeping out for just a few short days in relative comfort. The people spoke, however, not just in comments to her post rebuffing her arguments, but also by digging deep and donating so generously in what still are straightened times.
Support for the sleepout came also from the appearance of the band Kodaline who got the sleepout off to a great start singing along with High Hopes, a choir made up of homeless people and Dublin’s Lord Mayor joined in. The Edge from rock band U2 also turned up lend his support to the students, both those in the sleeping bags and those rattling the buckets which they did faithful for more that two days.
The students involved this year were keen to exploit the potential of on-line donations and used twitter and Facebook to promote their campaign #sleepout14 as well as enabling people to donated on their website sleepoutdublin.ie. As a result they broke last years target by over €40,000 and the substantial amount they raised will be most welcome to the three charities they’ve chosen.