Penwortham school supports former teacher's charity after reading about homelessness

A Penwortham secondary school has reached out to a charity set up by one of its former teachers after reading about homelessness.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 3:50 pm
Year 8 pupils at Penwortham Priory Academy are reading 'Stone Cold' during their English lessons.

Year 8 pupils at Penwortham Priory Academy have been learning about homelessness by reading the 2016 thriller ‘Stone Cold’ by children’s author Robert Swindells.

The thriller was hailed as a ‘great book’ by popular author Michael Rosen and the plot focuses on a series of murders which affect young and vulnerable homeless people.

After learning about the daily plight faced by homeless people, the school has decided to support a mental health support group close to its heart.

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Penwortham Priory pupils with their letters to the Police and Crime Commissioner.

‘Rise and Shine Lancashire’ was set up by Adam Graham, a former technology teacher at the school.

English teacher Ryan Owen reached out to Adam to offer the school’s support.

“The idea of linking up with homelessness and well-being charity came from the book Stone Cold which highlights the real impact of homelessness and the effects of mental health,” said Mr Owen.

According to the teacher, the school’s pupils are studying the book because it helps to ‘break down stereotypes’ associated with homeless people.

“Some people may think homeless people are ‘lazy’ but the book shows how you can have a stable life one minute and something can happen and you can end up on the streets,” he said.

After becoming ‘hooked’ on the book and learning more about homelessness, Priory pupils have decided to help Rise and Shine provide survival packs for those living on the streets.

“We wanted the pupils to get involved and be emotive and they have really connected with the idea of writing a letter to ask for funding for survival packs, it’s something a lot of them now feel very passionately about,” Mr Owen added.

“Pupils have written a letter to the Police and Crime Commissioner and the letters will be put on the Rise and Shine website and some sent to the Commissioner."

Rise and Shine’s survival packs include necessities like toothpaste, socks and bottled water which those suffering from street homelessness may struggle to access.

The group provides mental health and well-being support and was set up by Graham after he lost his brother to suicide.

Head of English at Priory, Mrs Gidden, said: “The pupils love the book ‘Stone Cold’.

“It’s about the realities of life on the streets as a homeless person, such as hunger and fleas, but also has a serial killer element and so the pupils are hooked.

“It’s based in the 1990s with the recession and they can relate to that now with Covid.”

Pupil Oliver Hodkinson was one student who wrote to the Police and Crime Commissioner to ask for help with the survival packs.

“I enjoyed writing the letter and asked rhetorical questions in it like ‘how would you feel to sleep on concrete?’,” he said.

“I didn’t realise homelessness was so bad so it has opened my eyes.”

Another pupil, Preston McMurray, said they learnt a lot from reading ‘Stone Cold’.

“From the book we learn about homeless people and it’s upsetting,” Preston said, “You can see them in Preston town centre and you can’t give every one of them money so these survival packs are vital.

“We want to show we care.”