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Countrystyle once again offered its services and collected vast amounts of cardboard from the Tonbridge School Annual School Sleep Out, an event which raises money for the Porchlight charity that supports the homeless and vulnerable young people in Kent.

The event saw 135 Novi (first year) boys – and six hardy members of staff – spending the night in a ‘cardboard city’ to learn more about the factors behind homelessness and to raise funds for Porchlight.

After building cardboard shelters, the boys listened to talks from Porchlight staff and gained an understanding of why someone may end up sleeping on the streets. Two people shared their stories via videoed interviews, explaining how challenges in their lives, including relationship breakdowns and prejudice, left them on the street, and how Porchlight has helped them get back on their feet.

The reality of the discomfort of sleeping on the street became more real to all those involved as the wind whipped around the temporary cardboard houses all night, and there was a downpour at 3 am.

Tonbridge School’s Community Action Manager Juliet Burnett said: “Our boys finished the night with a better understanding of the desperate reality faced by an increasing number of young people in Kent, who end up rough sleeping and with nowhere to go. Porchlight breaks the cycle, helping young people into safe accommodation, giving support and training, and assisting them to plan a career and a proper future. We are very proud to support this work.

“We hope that all the boys and staff who took part will now have a highly informed attitude and will think about the real person in every rough sleeper.”

More than £14,000 was raised at the 2019 event and overall a staggering £72,000 has been raised for Porchlight over the last seven years. This sum has helped the charity to help fund staff who approach young people on the street, open a dialogue and start helping them.