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Speaking up for the vulnerable


McAuley Community School students Livi Meehan and Angelina Schinella shook off the nerves and stood up for people experiencing homelessness at Sunday Mass in St Joseph’s Church, Brighton, last month.

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The Year 5/6 students shared their experience of holding a Mini Vinnies formation and sleepout event at their school, in the hope of raising much-needed funds for Vinnies homelessness services.

Vinnies School Sleepouts allow learners and school communities to get a glimpse of the realities of homelessness on a personal level by ‘sleeping rough’ for one night.

After a ‘Put a little love in our heart’ liturgy, students heard from representatives of Vinnies and Hutt St Centre as well as local Vinnies chapter president Liz Kelton, participated in activities and held a ‘mini sleepout’ in their cardboard ‘homes’.

About 26 students, all of whom are in the Mini Vinnies leadership group, took part in the evening.

The school has created a fundraising page on the Vinnies website and invited families to help Vinnies provide vital access to food, clothing, shelter and financial assistance in their time of need.

Emmy Smyk, McAuley Community School chaplain, said the event encouraged students to talk to their families and friends about homelessness.

She congratulated Livi and Angelina for making the effort to speak in public at Mass and said it was an important way of strengthening connections between the school and parish.

Livi and Angelina said they were nervous about speaking to the congregation but enjoyed being part of Mini Vinnies because “it makes a difference to people’s lives”.


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