Last Friday the student executive took part in the SOS Bus annual sleepout in writers square Belfast. The sleep out was to raise awareness for the Homeless problem in Northern Ireland. SOS NI was created in 2007 to meet the needs of vulnerable people on the streets of Belfast. Following a violent attack on his son, founding CEO Joe Hyland realized the need to have a compassionate and caring presence on our streets to make the city safer for everyone.
Arriving in Writers square each with our multiple layers on we knew what were about to do wasn’t going to be easy but we knew even just getting a glimpse into what thousands of people across Northern Ireland have to go through every night was something we needed to understand more as a group. With officers giving updates of how the night was going on our snapchat we felt extremely supported by the Staff and Students at Ulster University.
Our Sports President Emma Bonner when talking about the experience said “The SOS campout experience was worth bracing the Antarctic weather as we raised over £700 as a team contributing to the £6000 total for SOS NI. I was anxious to start as I had never did anything like this before, never mind in Belfast city centre. I felt vulnerable and didn't know what lay ahead which are feelings that some people have to face every night out on the streets”
Meghan Downey our Vice President for the Belfast campus also talks about how she found the night and how amazing she found the SOS Bus staff “The SOS sleep out has been an amazing experience. Sleeping outside on one of the coldest nights of the year has definitely opened my eyes.I would recommend everyone to at least try this, it really brings into perspective how much homeless people have to go through daily, we have a warm house to get back to, whereas they don't. The SOS staff were very kind and encouraging, I think they deserve a round of applause for all that they have done”
It safe to say our officer team had an eye opening night and were glad to get into the warmth and comfort of their own homes. But sadly the reality is many others don’t have this luxury so we encourage you to get out and get involved with local charities like the SOS Bus, Simon community and De Paul to help tackle this ongoing problem here in Northern Ireland.
But we just want to finish with all a thank you to all the students, staff, families and friends who help us raise £750 pound for the SOS Bus and supported us this money will now go towards sleepingbags, food, blankets etc for many vulnerable people this year.