From John McCallum, Head of Tevlin House
Tevlin boys’ first-hand encounter with homelessness
85 of Tevlin’s Senior School boys spent the last night of Winter at a Sleepout in the school Gym, experiencing and learning of many of the complex issues regarding homelessness. A formerly homeless Rob Holt, now an Educational officer at the Wayside Chapel, visited to run a seminar on what is was really like to be homeless, and reflect on the powerful and life-changing support of the Wayside Chapel in turning his life around. 200 towels and 200 toothbrushes were also donated by Tevlin boys for the wayside Chapel to use in supporting the many men, women and children who use their support services each week.
Boys also got much out of watching and reflecting on a video on teenage homelessness, centred on the OASIS Centre in Surry Hills. Along with the recent SBS series of “Filthy Rich and Homeless”, boys were challenging to better understand the range of factors often involved with becoming and dealing with homelessness. Boys also now better understand the Christian message of care and support for the marginalised so much more, and will hopefully now be able and willing to take a greater role in social Justice initiatives that Waverley runs, including volunteering at the Matt Talbot Hostel, Street Retreats and advocacy for better homeless support services and affordable housing solutions.
Boys also realised first-hand the impacts physically and emotionally an uncomfortable sleep has on their bodies, and the difficulties this presents if you add in fear of your health and safety. Thank you to Social Justice Co-ordinator Ms Cullen, and Tevlin mentor teachers for assisting in the event: Mr Porter, Ms Brown, Ms Ayre and Mr Hillman. Some accounts from boys appear below.
From Hugh McDonald, Year 7
On Friday August 31st, everyone in Tevlin House slept in the gymnasium for 12 hours. This was to get some sort of idea of how much pain homeless people go through when they are sleeping rough. I really enjoyed when we all listened to guest speaker Rob Holt, who told us his experiences with homelessness and how Wayside Chapel got him back on his feet. It was very shocking to hear about the terrible experiences people go through when they are homeless. When we were sleeping rough on the gymnasium floors, we watched the documentary Filthy Rich and Homeless. Since I was so tired, I fell asleep before it finished but I still got to see the struggles homeless people go through by watching some of the documentary. Overall, it was an experience that a lot of people enjoyed including me, but it showed how devastating homelessness is and how big of an issue it is in our community.
From Byron Scott, Year 9
I have learned so much from our sleepout on the homeless issue in today’s society, and learning the Rob Holt story of his life was of the most interesting talks I have ever witnessed. It made me realise how thankful kids should be growing up in Waverley College, and how we should treat homeless people with dignity. It makes fell really happy to know that organisations like the Wayside Chapel can help save tormented lives and bring people like Rob back to their feet.