LOSING SLEEP – Year 8 pupils from Castle Court School have carried out their 10th annual Sleep Out to raise money and awareness for BCHA. Pictured constructing their cardboard sleeping boxes are (left to right) Ed, Guy, Eddie and George.

Every year for the past decade pupils from the independent school near Wimborne have bedded down in cardboard boxes in their school grounds to raise money and awareness for the work of Bournemouth-based BCHA.

The £1100 raised this year now brings the total up to £10,000.

BCHA was founded 50 years ago and helps over 10,000 people each year off the streets, out of abuse, over skill barriers and onto independent living.

The Castle Court youngsters were spurred on in their Sleep Out this year by some meagre rations of beans on toast, as well as sponsorship from their friends and families and the encouragement of their teacher Lee Edmond.

Mr Edmond said: “Castle Court is full of admiration for the work carried out here in Dorset and across the west country by BCHA to help homeless and disadvantaged people.

“We have supported the organisation for many years in a variety of ways, and the Sleep Out always attracts lots of volunteers, as well as raising an impressive amount in sponsorship.”

BCHA’s Employability & Skills Manager Greg O’Mallo recently visited Castle Court and described some of the harsh realities of life on the streets.

Mr Edmond added: “Although the Sleep Out was nowhere near the extremes of discomfort experienced by rough sleepers, I think the sore backs and groggy heads in the morning may have made our pupils much more aware of the comforts they enjoy in their own homes.”

Sleep Out participant James, 13, said: “It was a great opportunity for us to come together to raise money and to gain a small understanding of some of the hardships that the homeless face every day and night.

“We were very lucky that the weather was warm and dry and we were of course with friends. I can’t imagine what it would be like to do that alone and cold.”

Castle Court also supports BCHA through its annual Harvest food collection and Christmas shoebox appeals.

BCHA’S Assistant Director of Housing and Customer Experience, Stacey Northover said: “We are very grateful to Castle Court, its staff, pupils and parents for their continuing support. Their kind deeds and thoughtfulness lead to genuine help for the people who need it most.”

Schools, businesses, individuals or groups interested in raising money for BCHA are asked to email: fundraising@bcha.org.uk or call: 01202 410500.