22 April 2021

Pupils at Penwortham Priory Academy are reading a book about homelessness – and it has led to a link up with a local charity close to Priory’s heart. 

The Year 8 pupils are all reading 'Stone Cold' by Robert Swindells which highlights the plight of people living on the streets in the 90s but it's still as relevant today.

Rise & Shine Lancashire is a charity started by former Priory technology teacher Mr Adam Graham and he is applying for funding to create survival packs for the homeless with basic necessities including toothpaste, socks and bottled water. 

In conjunction with reading the book, pupils have been asked to write a letter to the Police & Crime Commissioner to support the Rise & Shine appeal. 

English teacher Mr Owen said: “I got in touch with Adam after a suggestion from Mrs Gidden to link up with his charity.  The idea of linking up with a homelessness and well-being charity came from the book Stone Cold which highlights the real impact of homelessness and the effects of mental health, it breaks down stereotypes. 

“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. The author Robert Swindells actually lived on the streets for a few days to gain the experiences to write the book. 

“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. 

“We have done persuasive writing before but when they are writing for something real, that it has a purpose and will be sent somewhere to be used, the pupils have embraced it. 

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

Head of English Mrs Gidden said: “The pupils love the book Stone Cold. It’s about life on the streets as a homeless person and the realities of it, 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.  It’s a split narrative and it’s short chapters so very engaging. As well as reading it at home, we read it in lessons and the pupils are discussing their theories on what will happen next. They are excited about reading it and that’s what we want as a school.” 

Year 8 Alfie K said: “I like horror films and this is about a serial killer so I am enjoying the book, you go into the mind of a homeless person and a serial killer so it’s interesting.” 

Dylan M said: “You get it from two different people, the homeless person and the serial killer and you know their two paths will cross eventually so it keeps you on the edge of your seat.” 

Lewis B said: “Mrs Gidden speaks in different voices when she is reading it to us so it brings it to life.” 

Oliver H has written a letter to the Police & Crime Commissioner and said: “I enjoyed writing the letter and asked rhetorical questions in it like ‘how would you feel to sleep on concrete?’ I didn’t realise homelessness was so bad so it has opened my eyes.” 

Toni-Leah S-D said: “My step dad was homeless so it’s a cause very close to me, it was personal to me.” 

Preston McM added: “From the book we learn about homeless people and it’s upsetting. 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.” 


See Lancashire Post article from 19 April 2021.

Visit Rise & Shine Lancashire website>> https://riseandshinelancs.org.uk/

Tags: English