The 29th Belvedere College SJ Annual Sleep-Out and Fast took place over the Christmas period in Dublin city centre and around 60 students and staff spent 3 days and 2 nights on O’Connell Street outside the G.P.O. from Saturday 22nd to Monday 24th December collecting funds and raising awareness for the homeless. A large number of past pupils also took part, based in College Green. The funds raised were in aid of three very deserving charities working to combat homelessness; Focus Ireland, Peter McVerry Trust and Home Again charities.
In the spirit of Christmas people were extremely generous and supportive of the cause. In the days leading up to the event, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, invited some of the students to his office to meet and pose for a photo. Many other celebrities called in to support the Sleep-Out including Joe Duffy, Lisa Fitzpatrick and Aidan Power from RTÉ, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Naoise Ó Muirí, Peter McVerry, Ronan Keating and his son Jack, Leinster rugby players Eoin O’Malley, Rhys Ruddock and past pupil and former Irish and Lions rugby international, Ollie Campbell.
Normally, the students sleep in a tent, provided by the army, in the centre of O’Connell Street. However, due to a gale blowing on the first night, the tent was evacuated and everyone spent the night under the G.P.O. for safety reasons, amid fears that the huge Christmas tree might fall on the tent and the fire brigade was 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.
After three tough days on the streets of Dublin everyone was exhausted come Christmas Eve. “Although tired, we were all delighted and uplifted when we found out at the Christmas Eve mass in the college that over €138,000 had been raised. This year for the first time, we introduced a texting system, whereby €2 could be donated with each text, and it was hugely successful, raising over €7,500 of the above sum,”said Sean Griffin, student and one of the organisers.
“There was a great sense of achievement amongst the group for the difference we had hopefully made to the lives of homeless people”, he added. “I have no doubt that the goodwill generated from this event will continue and grow over the coming years.”