On Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th May, Four Walls had the pleasure of delivering workshops to Years 3 through to 6 on the subject of homelessness. The aim of these sessions were to challenge some of the negative perceptions that young people may have heard about those that sleep rough.
Being situated in the centre of London, the children are very familiar with seeing rough sleepers on their way to school, and therefore both ourselves and the staff at St Joseph’s felt it was important to bring this discussion into the classroom.
Our first activity involved asking the children what ‘home’ meant to them and the things inside of their home which they looked forward to when they were there. The children agreed that amongst other things, the things that made their home up included their family/carers, a bed, hot food, and a bath/shower.
A selection of drawings by children in year 4, 5 and 6 on what 'home' means to them.
Our second activity involved showing we children pictures of individuals who either have been, or are homeless. We asked the children to raise their hands if they believed that the person in the photo has ever been, or is currently homeless. This activity involved making judgements based on how the individual looked, what they were doing, and where they were. We then asked the children to tell us some of the reasons why they thought these people may or not be a victim of homelessness. The children commented on the presence of sleeping bags and sitting outside as indicators of homelessness. Some children also mentioned that ‘Maria’ might not be homeless because she looks smart and looks like she’s at work. On the foundations of the first activity, we asked the children to think about the reasons why ‘Paul’ for example, may look how he does. The children connected the ideas of having no bed to the need to have a sleeping bag, and a lack of access to a bath to looking a little unclean.
During our final activity, the children compiled numerous ways that the St Joseph’s family could help vulnerable people in their community. This included raising money through mufti days and collecting provisions for rough sleepers. Moreover, beyond suggestions for physical items, the children spoke about being kind and smiling to rough sleepers they saw.
Some of the ideas presented by the children to help rough sleepers in their community included being kind and raising money through non-uniform days and cake sales
We had an incredible time at St Joseph’s and our hearts were warmed by their engagement and responses. Some children told us that they had learnt to “not judge a book by its cover” and “to be kind to everyone even if they’re not living life like you are”.
We would like to say a special thank-you to St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School for having us and we very much look forward to coming back and working with the School Family in the future!