Sleep in the Park: world’s largest sleep-out to end homelessness a success

On Saturday 9 December, 8,000 people gathered at Princes Street Gardens for Sleep in the Park, the world’s largest-scale sleep-out to show their support for the 11,000 homeless households in Scotland. The event was organised by Social Bite, and £3.6 million was already raised before the event began. Of this, £0.5million was given by an anonymous donor on Saturday afternoon.

The charity has received visits from philanthropists including Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney. Last night, Bob Geldof was among the masses of people braving the cold in Princes Street Gardens, as well as several Scottish government ministers, and various members of the acts performing. These included Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Amy MacDonald and Frightened Rabbit. John Cleese also told fundraisers a bedtime story, while Rob Brydon presented the show.

A minimum of £100 was raised by each participant to attend the sleep-out, which happened to hit one of the coldest weekends Edinburgh has had this season, with lowest temperatures at -7℃. The largest corporate donation was a huge £27,000, while the largest individual donation was £11,000.

Moreover, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, has pledged that “If we manage to raise £50,000 thethe University will be able to proudly sponsor one of the proposed houses at the new Social Bite Village in Granton.”

In a news release, Josh Littlejohn MBE, Social Bite co-founder, said: “Tonight was the night when people from all walks of life came together in Scotland, to stick up for the most vulnerable people among us. This is the night that we collectively gave a voice to the people who have never had one.”

Social Bite started as a sandwich shop on Rose Street in Edinburgh in 2012, and has grown to be Scotland’s leading independent corporate catering businesses. The charity is the largest distributor of free fresh food to the homeless in the UK, giving out over 100,000 items of food and hot drinks per year. A quarter of the business’ staff are also homeless, employed and supported t get back into permanent accommodation.

Littlejohn continued: “Scotland is a small enough country, a compassionate enough country and a collaborative enough country, where nobody has to be homeless here. If we put our heads together, we can wipe out homelessness in five years.

“It is not a question of resource; it is simply a question of focus, and what the participants have all done tonight, by giving up their beds, is put a razor-sharp focus on the issue. I would like to thank all of the participants for creating this movement. I would like to thank Clydesdale Bank for raising £500,000. And I would like to thank EdIndex and Wheatley Group for making a bold commitment of offering almost 500 homes to rough sleepers and homeless people.

“We won’t end homelessness after one night, but we have made one giant leap towards that goal. And that is the victory of everyone who took part.”


By Mei Futonaka

News Editor

3rd year International Relations student

One reply on “Sleep in the Park: world’s largest sleep-out to end homelessness a success”

The Scottish and local governments should be (but disgracefully are often not) providing sufficient finance from their own budgets to provide for the homeless and so charity has kindly to step in where government provision is absent.
Thank you for charity but government really should be providing homes for the homeless as a core service.
Cuts in core government services are often excused by Scottish government ministers and councillors who try to blame a UK Tory government austerity agenda and cuts in the block grant to Holyrood and cuts in Scottish government funding of local councils.
Although certainly the Tories are partners in austerity crime, there is dishonest politics at work in Scotland because the Scottish government, the SNP government, have AGREED a fiscal framework deal with the UK government and therefore have effectively AGREED with the Tory austerity agenda.

Although they would most likely deny it, the SNP government is on the record as actually agreeing with austerity!
“The Agreement Between the Scottish Government and the United Kingdom Government on the Scottish Government’s fiscal framework
By Scottish Government, St. Andrew’s House, Regent Road, Edinburgh EH1 3DG ”
Published on the Scottish Government website.

It therefore beggar’s belief to witness the sheer brass neck of Deputy First Minister John Swinney hypocritically supporting this charity event for the homeless when it was he, Swinney. who negotiated, disgracefully agreed and recommended the bad deal austerity fiscal framework agreement to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for her final approval.
The austerity agenda is John Swinney’s, Nicola Sturgeon’s and the SNP government’s own austerity agenda – they signed up to the fiscal framework agreement which underpins austerity, which prevents the Scottish government from borrowing £ billions a year more every year interest-free from the central bank to invest in public services, for growth and prosperity, banishing austerity forever.

Instead, the really effective way to care would be for us all to demand a NEW DEAL fiscal framework, which can only really be expected when the Scottish government finally disowns Swinney’s recommendation in February 2016 to accept his negotiated fiscal framework deal with the UK, when finally Swinney’s deputy leadership is exposed and recognised as utterly incompetent, hypocritical and a menace to the finances, services and prosperity of the Scots.
It is no excuse at all for Mr Swinney to quote the rotten advice he received from the nutty professor Anton Muscatelli that the fiscal framework was allegedly “a good deal”. No that bad deal isn’t a “good deal”!
Muscatelli is unreliable as an adviser. Swinney was wrong to rely on the unreliable Muscatelli.

So Mr Swinney really ought to resign or be sacked as Deputy First Minister.
Sadly, there is no other way for Scots to care for the sick, the poor and the homeless – Swinney must go because he is threatening to make Scrooges of us all and no amount of sleeping out in the cold can salve the conscience of those who are foolishly tolerating such an intolerably inept man as Swinney as Scotland’s Deputy First Minister.
Shame on Swinney yes but shame on us too if we put up with him for one more night.
Other SNP cabinet government peas in the pod who share bad deal fiscal framework culpability are Derek MacKay MSP and Keith Brown MSP who have both failed to correct Mr Swinney’s mistakes regarding the fiscal framework.
Therefore it falls to me to offer the high quality economics and financial advice which First Minister Sturgeon deserves so that she can put our country on a better path.

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