Multiple '˜Sleep in the Park' events planned for Scotland to end homelessness

A string of 'Sleep in the Park' events could be staged on the same night across Scotland in the wake of the success of the first event raising more than £4 million.

Friday, 12th January 2018, 2:18 pm
Updated Friday, 12th January 2018, 2:20 pm
Sleepers bed down for the night during the Sleep in the Park in West Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, last month

Around 500 people are already expected to be helped off the streets after more than 8,000 people turned out in sub-zero temperatures for the first fundraising event in December.

It it thought simultaneous events may be held in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee this winter in a bid to build on the momentum of the event dreamt up by social entrepreneur Josh Littlejohn.

He said people had travelled to Edinburgh “from every corner of Scotland” for the first event in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh.

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Amy Macdonald, Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Sir Bob Geldof, Rob Brydon and John Cleese were among those to entertain the crowds.

Participants had to pledge to raise at least £100 for Social Bite, the social enterprise set up by Littlejohn to raise money to tackle homelessness six years ago, initially via a chain of sandwich shops and cafes.

Littlejohn came up with the idea of a mass sleep-out after persuading more than 300 business leaders, politicians and celebrities to take part in a smaller-scale event in Charlotte Square in Edinburgh in December 2016.

Billed as the biggest “sleep-out” in the world, Sleep in the Park, also led to 160 jobs and 35 spare rooms being offered to homeless people.

Littlejohn, who joined forces with Edinburgh-based producers Unique Events to stage Sleep in the Park, has already declared an ambition to “eradicate” homelessness in Scotland within five years.

He said: “Our main objective this year is to invest the funds we have raised, primarily in trying to get 500 people off the streets and into permanent housing.

“We’re definitely exploring how to build on that momentum and push things forward to make significant funding available by potentially evolving the event. Everything is still at the planning stages at the moment.

“Last year’s event completely exceeded my expectations. 
It broke a fundraising target that most people probably would not have thought was possible. There was interest from across Scotland – we had people travelling from all corners of the country to take part.

“We also had incredibly significant pledges of supported lodging for homeless people.

“We have set a timescale of five years. The Scottish Government has made a funding commitment of £50m over the next five years.

“We hope to play our part, along with the government, local authorities and charities to use events such as Sleep in the Park to take the whole thing forward.”