When I first heard about Sleep in the Park a few months back, I couldn’t wait to sign up and take part. While it was very short-term, there was a period in my late teens where I had no fixed abode. I count myself lucky, however, that I had enough charitable friends and family around me at the time that I was never left on the street.
To this day, that thought of sleeping rough terrifies me, but to think that for so many out there who experience it on a nightly basis is simply unacceptable. The fact that it is 2017 and we’re still talking about the issue of homelessness in the Western world is an absolute travesty. Let’s face it, emptying the ‘shrapnel’ from your pockets, however well-received, doesn’t really go a very long way at all to tackling homelessness. It won’t put a roof over anyone’s head, and it won’t prevent anyone from freezing to death. We have long required a more radical solution. Step in Josh Littlejohn and Alice Thompson, founders of Social Bite. In just five years they have managed to put the issue of homelessness to the top of the agenda. Sleep in the Park will be a success because it’s creating something that people are going to remember. Close to 9,000 people are giving up their beds for the night, all of them raising money to tackle an issue that governments should have dealt with decades ago. I’m taking part because I believe in the Social Bite model and want to support them in any way I can. Yes, it’ll be chilly, but I’ll be there in full thermals, with a warm sleeping bag, access to free hot beverages and enough cash in my pocket to fill up on hot dogs and whatever else takes my fancy. Not to mention there’s a night of top-notch entertainment on offer. Sleep in the Park? More like walk in the park. I won’t be suffering, that’s being done by the people I hope to help. Here’s hoping for homelessness, it marks the beginning of the end.