YOUNGSTERS at an Accrington high school have put pen to paper in a bid to highlight the plight of the homeless.
Year 8 pupils at Mount Carmel wrote letters based on a leaflet from homeless charity Shelter, urging the public to help people on the streets, for the "writing with a purpose'' part of their English class.
Teacher Gina Masterson sent a batch to our readers' letters page and has forwarded some copies to national newspapers. She said: "They have read through a leaflet from Shelter and written letters to the papers. They have worked really hard and it's been a labour of love."
Many of the youngsters said that when the class started they believed that homeless people only had themselves to blame but soon began to realise that they need practical help, not criticism.
The pupils were clearly moved and came up with a number of ideas to help out people on the streets.
Luke Gallagher said: "You could just take a look in your wardrobes and see if there is anything that doesn't fit you any more. You could take it to your nearest clothes bank and try to clothe someone who might be dying from the cold. Or instead of buying a bar of chocolate, you could give it to someone who is living on the street."
John Winterbottom added: "If we did our little bit to help we could save a life or two. Even a little bit of money could help, so have a spring-clean and see if you can help by giving something useful such as pillows, quilts, sheets or old clothes. Any of these are useful, so please help. If you don't an innocent person could die."
Many of the youngsters expressed their shock at the story of a homeless man who died of frostbite.
Laura Shorrock said: "There was a man called John who lived in the streets who we read about in class. One cold night someone found him dead. He died of frostbite and his face was so blue. There are so many adults and children with no home, not even a roof over their head."
Scott Athies summed up the mood of the group in his letter. He said: "I wish to tell you not to criticise the homeless. They are on the streets being laughed at, but what if it was you? Would you want help, support and kindness? I think you would. I read a leaflet about a homeless person who slept in a doorway. The next day he died and no-one knew his name. We do not want this to keep happening, do we?"
Year 9 pupils at Mount Carmel are writing a novel about homelessness as part of their English classes.