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Home  >  News  >  Millions Raised For Homelessness at Mass Sleepout

News

Millions Raised For Homelessness at Mass Sleepout

Josh Littlejohn, founder of Social Bite and organiser of Sleep In The Park, addresses the crowds sleeping out in the Princes Street Gardens.

 

                                                                                                                            Sunday December 10 2017

Lynne McNeil reports from Sleep In The Park in Edinburgh.

  

LAST night on possibly the coldest night of the winter so far, I slept under the stars for the first (and hopefully last) time.

With temperatures falling as low as -7C, I was part of a 12-strong team from Dunfermline Abbey taking part in the Sleep in the Park – a mass campaign to end homelessness which saw over 8000 people sleeping out in the Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh.

The temperatures were already dropping as we arrived around 6.30pm and fell gradually through the night as we enjoyed the evening’s entertainment before bedding down shortly after 11pm.

My fitness band records that I managed to sleep for exactly two hours and 45 minutes. We slept on groundsheets and brought our own camping mats and sleeping bags, topped up with a survival bag provided by organisers.

In reality, it was little more than a fitful doze on the frozen uncomfortable ground – not made any more bearable by the presence of padded thermal mats. I had five layers of clothing (including a set of thermals). By 4.11am, I realised I was cold and had to get up. Hundreds had the same idea as we queued for the free tea and coffee on offer. Yet this is the reality for hundreds of people on the streets of our land every night. I was frozen, cold and uncomfortable but was surrounded by thousands of people and had access to hot drinks and food. What about those who do not have such basic necessities and are forced to sleep on the streets, fearful for their safety, their bodies and senses dulled by the freezing cold, wondering if they will survive the night and manage to find food the next day?

We completed the challenge by walking around to stay warm and drinking hot drinks. Others do not have this choice.

Event organiser, Josh Littlejohn, the co-founder of the social business Social Bite, was emphatic homelessness could be eradicated in Scotland within five years. Outlining the plans for the millions of pounds generated by Sleep In The Park, he said homelessness was not about resource but rather focus.

“Tonight Scotland has set an example for the whole world,” he said.

A welter of celebrities supported the evening – from Deacon Blue and Liam Gallagher to actor and comedian Rob Brydon and Fawlty Towers star John Cleese, who offered a bedtime story. There was also a hardhitting and highly political address from Sir Bob Geldolf.

Before the event ended, more than £3m had been pledged to tackle the root causes of homelessness and provide tailored support and accommodation to those who find themselves on the street.

An estimated 1500 people from the Church of Scotland were thought to have taken part, a number which the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning described as ‘remarkable’. Dr Browning and former Moderator, the Very Rev Albert Bogle joined the thousands sleeping out along with a number of celebrities including Sir Chris Hoy and sports presenter Dougie Vipond.

 

Read a full account of Sleep in the Park in the February issue of Life and Work.

Thank you to everyone who has so generously supported the team from Dunfermline Abbey which has raised more than £7000 by taking part.


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Comments

Els Nicol - Sunday, December 10th, 2017

“I took part and managed to sleep a few hours too. After wakening in the morning, all covered in ice, my daughter and I felt an enormous sense of compassion and sadness for those that experience sleeping rough on a regular basis. My daughter, a 27 year old nurse, went as far as stating on her Facebook update that a society that allows this to happen is 'cruel'. Strong words, but after a deeply moving experience it felt like the right choice after all. Let's change this together!!!”


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