Another record-breaking year for Belvo SleepOut

January 2, 2024 in Featured News, News

Belvedere College’s 40th anniversary SleepOut in aid of homeless charities was a record-breaking fundraiser. Students from the college raised a total of €370,000 for Focus Ireland and the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). Last year’s SleepOut raised over €306,000 and was also a record at the time.

They started fundraising at noon on December 22 2023 and stayed on the streets until Christmas Eve. They were joined by past pupils and staff members, as well as the Belvedere Choir who sang carols to entertain people doing their last-minute Christmas shopping.

Sporting legends also joined the students over the three days. Leinster rugby stars Jimmy O’Brien, Tadhg Furlong, Harry Byrne, and Ross Molony helped the fundraising get off to a bright start on Friday morning.

In an interview with Darragh Nolan of the Irish Independent, this year’s SleepOut spokesperson Tom Callaghan said the campaign has already had huge success in the days leading up to the SleepOut itself with Transition Year students sleeping overnight in their gardens in mid-December.

“Before a bucket was shaken we had over €140,000 on the Justgiving page online,” said Tom, adding, “It’s not nice but you have to put yourself in the shoes of homeless people and see what they go through on a yearly basis. It’s not nice but it has to be done.”

Harry Walshe, who visits homeless people on the streets with soup and for a chat as part of his Vincent de Paul work, is also on the SleepOut team. He said it was great to get the support of everyone, including passersby on the streets and the online donations. “The sleep-out is a good thing to do,” says Harry. “I’ve been working with Vincent de Paul and different homeless groups since my first year. It’s great as a student to be able to get out in the streets and do something different with your school.”

Student Hugh Johnston said reaching the 40th year of the sleep-out is “a story of success, but also a story of failure… 40 years later we still have to take to the streets to fight against homelessness.”

The students spent two nights on Dublin’s streets, fasting and collecting money. Hugh said he knew he was lucky because he had a warm bed to look forward to when the SleepOut ended. “Whereas people who sleep on the streets every day don’t have that comfort and don’t have that choice. So although was hard for me it’s a lot worse for people out there sleeping on the streets every night so I just have to be grateful for what I have.”

Homeless charity Focus Ireland has been a partner of the Belvedere College sleep-out since the very beginning in 1983 and has supported 16,000 families, including 1,668 families, over the past year.

The JRS was brought on board at a time when there is a shortage of available housing for incoming asylum seekers and refugees many of whom have been sleeping in tents on the streets.