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Faith Leaders Support Big Sleep Out

Thursday December 5 2019

The Sleep in the Park event in Edinburgh last year.


Faith leaders in Scotland have urged support for a global mass sleep-out this Saturday.

The World’s Big Sleep Out will see tens of thousands of people sleeping out at 48 events around the world, with the aim of raising millions of pounds to tackle local homelessness. It includes the fourth year of the Big Sleep Out in Edinburgh, where the event began in 2016.

Leaders from five of Scotland’s Christian denominations, representatives of Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Bahá’í communities, and interfaith organisations have all expressed their support.

The Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “Seeing the problem close up, talking with people who have become homeless means I am glad to support the World’s Big Sleep Out as an expression of solidarity, as an attempt to experience the world the homeless inhabit, and as a public statement that we need to work to help ensure everyone has a home they can call their own.”

The Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said: “Once again winter has arrived and once again the plight of the homeless in our communities is heightened by the cold, we feel its bite and cannot imagine how it must be for those who are rough sleepers.

“The World’s Big Sleep Out and the work of night shelters and all those who try to bring hope and some comfort for those who are struggling with homelessness should be fully supported by the people of faith in this country.”

Imam Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi, Chief Imam, Director General, Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society, said: “With some of the most vulnerable members of our society lacking a safe and secure place to call home, homelessness has become a human crisis in our modern world. As faiths who teach to want for others as we want for ourselves, this is made ever more tragic. Human dignity necessitates that everyone deserves the security of good housing.

"As the Muslim community, we are willing to work with other faiths to provide whatever support we can to raise the standard of living for those living rough. We will be participating in and supporting the World’s Big Sleep Out to call for a global end to homelessness.”

Rabbi Moshe Rubin, Senior Rabbi of Scotland, of Giffnock and Newlands Hebrew Congregation, said: “A home not only provides shelter and security but is so much more than that. It is where one’s identity is expressed and we can each express our uniqueness. It is why the message of the World’s Big Sleep Out is so important and must be heard.

"The world is faced with so many different challenges and the first step of tackling these many challenges must be giving back to people dignity and respect, which is something we hope and pray for.”

Dr Maureen Sier, Director of Interfaith Scotland, said: “I am deeply aware that all faith communities at their heart desire a fairer, safer and more compassionate world - a world where homelessness would not exist.  I fully endorse the World’s Big Sleep Out and hope that it highlights the plight of the homeless; raises awareness of the level of human suffering that homelessness entails; and that it galvanises everyone to work together to ensure that across the world there is an end to this tragedy.” 

The Big Sleep Out was started in 2016 by Josh Littlejohn, co-founder of the social enterprise café chain Social Bite. 300 people took part in the 2016 CEO sleepout, and 8000 in the 2017 Sleep in the Park in Prince's Street Gardens. Last year it expanded to other Scottish locations, and in 2019 events will be held in cities throughout the UK, Ireland, Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, India, the Philippines and Zimbabwe. Each event will include live performances.

The money raised will be split 50:50 between local charities and organisations working with displaced people internationally.

Mr Littlejohn said: “It’s uplifting to see the faith leaders of Scotland coming together. To tackle homelessness, we need to operate collectively, with each faith community bringing its passion for social justice and social capital. The World’s Big Sleep Out has its inspiration in Scotland, so it’s fantastic to have the support of its faith leaders.”

Registration for the New York, London and Edinburgh events closes today (Thursday). For more information visit https://www.bigsleepout.com/


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