World’s biggest sleepout raises a minimum of £3.6m to end homelessness
Over 8,000 people came together in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens this evening (Saturday December 9) to show their support for homeless people in Scotland by taking part in the world’s biggest sleepout, Sleep in the Park. Organised by Social Bite, donations topped £3.6m as the event began.
Participants each raised a minimum of £100 each to attend the night, enjoying stripped back ‘busking’ sets from Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Amy Macdonald and Frightened Rabbit before sleeping out. John Cleese told a bedtime story to the attendees who also heard from Rob Brydon, Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bob Geldof.
Social Bite started as a sandwich shop on Rose Street in Edinburgh in August 2012 and has now grown to five shops in Scotland, two large staff canteens in Edinburgh, a central production kitchen in Livingston and one of the country’s leading independent corporate catering businesses.
One quarter of Social Bite’s staff are homeless and the charity has received visits from Hollywood superstars Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney.
Social Bite is the largest distributer of free fresh food to homeless in the UK, giving out over 100,000 items of food and hot drinks per year.
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.
“There are 11,000 homeless households in Scotland. When I think about all of the amazing different people, sleeping in this garden tonight, the one thing that strikes me about these statistics of homelessness is that they are not insurmountable.
“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 £500K. 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."
Fundraising is open until Christmas Eve and donations can be made at www.sleepinthepark.co.uk.