Church young­sters try rough sleep­ing

Life on the streets sim­u­la­tion test for group

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Jonathan Ged­des

It might sound like the world’s worst sleep­over – but a group of young­sters at Ruther­glen United Re­formed Church re­cently shunned home com­forts to sim­u­late life on the streets.

The seven-strong group were tak­ing part in an ex­er­cise at the church that saw them spend a night home­less.

They were faced with hav­ing hardly any food and hav­ing their shel­ters dis­rupted as the night went on.

The idea was the brain­child of Kim Hansen, who stays in Fern­hill and is cur­rently do­ing a course on De­vel­op­ing Com­mu­nity Ex­pe­ri­ence.

Part of the course was de­vel­op­ing a project that would help raise aware­ness of home­less­ness with sev­eral of the church’s younger mem­bers, all of whom were be­tween S1 and S3.

Kim said: “The whole sim­u­la­tion lasted from 6pm un­til 8am and it worked very well.

“We wanted to make sure they ex­pe­ri­enced what be­ing home­less would be like.

“One of the first things they did was build them­selves shel­ters to sleep in out­side, and when they went into the church to get their food parcels their be­long­ings and shel­ters were moved about and taken apart, so they had to re­build them.

“They were each given food parcels to get through the whole night and it was up to them to de­cide when to eat it and how to spread it out.

“It was all things like a plain ham sand­wich and some crisps, all very straight­for­ward food.

“Some of them were try­ing to swap with oth­ers to get some­thing they liked more, but they were all very good and spread the food out to last them overnight.

“But while they were get­ting that, the lead­ers were sit­ting there eat­ing fish and chips just a few feet away.

“It was a re­minder that if they were ac­tu­ally home­less they would have to make do with what­ever they could get, while there could be nice restau­rants next to them.”

Kim was full of praise for how the group coped with the night.

She said: “They re­sponded re­ally well and I was re­ally im­pressed with that.

“They were re­ally keen to learn and sev­eral came back and said they had learned a lot.

“It re-en­forced that it’s not al­ways about do­ing any­thing huge, it’s just about ac­knowl­edg­ing that peo­ple are in that po­si­tion and do­ing what you can to help them, from say­ing hello to putting to­gether hy­giene packs, which was some­thing that we did.”

A to­tal of 30 hy­giene packs were made up on the night and con­tained items such as soap, plas­ters, socks and de­odor­ant. They were then given to the Lodg­ing House Mis­sion.

Rough stuffTeens learned what it was like to live on the streets

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