A GROUP of S6 pupils at North Berwick High School spent a night sleeping outdoors to help fight homelessness.

The 15-strong group took part in a sponsored socially distanced sleep out to raise money for Social Bite, a charity that aims to alleviate homelessness by providing food and shelter initiatives to those affected.

Their task was to spend the night outside, regardless of weather conditions, in their gardens with no shelter.

They were split into four smaller groups and each took part in four separate gardens, keeping in touch through a group chat.

The group was inspired to undertake the challenge by Social Bite’s ‘sleep in the park’ event, which was unable to go ahead in 2020.

Pupil Mairi Johnston, 17, who was one of those that took part, described the challenge that they took on, organised by the school’s charities committee, as “no mean feat during December in Scotland”.

They completed the challenge on December 5, with the preceding stormy weather not boding well for the group and the night that lay ahead of them.

Many were worrying and panicking after it started to hail earlier on in the day.

It was a fairly wet night but the determined group stuck it out and made it through till morning. Each group spent a different length of time outside, with some spending nine hours in the cold and others staying out until 9am.

Mairi added: “And it’s a good thing we did [stick it out], as friends, family and members of the community at home were rooting for us. We are overwhelmed by the support we have received.

“It was really good and a very eye-opening experience; we had some really interesting conversations about different things in the news too to help pass the time when we couldn’t sleep.”

Hours before their sleep out began, an online fundraising page was set up, raising £1,000 before the challenge had even started.

An initial target of £500 was set and the total has continued to rise since, to now more than £2,000.

Mairi added: “We are thrilled with this sum and are excited to send the money to Social Bite, who can implement real change using the donations.”

To donate, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/charities committee

North Berwick High School’s charities committee selected Social Bite as its national charity this year.

It also selected a local charity – the Jess Mackie Memorial Fund, which raises money to support music therapy at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh – and an international charity, the Ekwendeni HIV/AIDS youth centre in Malawi.

The Jess Mackie Memorial Fund was set up in 2018 in memory of North Berwick High School pupil Jess Mackie, who tragically died on January 2 that year, aged 14.

The committee is planning to host several other events throughout the year to keep its high level of fundraising.