The freezing winter temperatures can be perilous for some of the most vulnerable people in society as they battle the elements to stay alive while sleeping on the streets.
But thanks to hundreds of potentially life saving donations from people and businesses across the city, Edinburgh has shown its true propensity to stretch out a caring hand to those in need.
An appeal as part of Edinburgh Gamechanger, a public social partnership founded by Hibs, Hibernian Community Foundation and NHS Lothian working with others, notably the Cyrenians, and the Edinburgh Cheer campaign, resulted in a hoard of top quality garments to guard against the extreme cold.
The public and retailers including Jenners, Debenhams and John Lewis gave warm clothing and sleeping bags to the Easter Road drop-off point.
Ewan Aitken of Cyrenians said though not a solution to the brutality of life on the streets, without the generosity of others, those sleeping rough could freeze to death.
He said: “These items – 4 seasons sleeping bags, warm coats, socks, blankets, hoodies and much more – quite simply save lives.
“They are not a solution to homelessness but they are a way to provide help in an immediate crisis. If you start sleeping rough at 18 your life expectancy reduces to 47.
“That is how brutal life on the streets is. You can, and people have in this city – freeze to dead. The complexity of medical conditions physical, emotional and psychological which are caused by the impact of sleeping rough is devastating and eventually fatal. I and my colleague as are very grateful to those many people and businesses who have reached out and for a moment at least held the hand of our most excluded citizens.”
Community cop PC Leo Baker also helped co-ordinate vital donations. He said: “Throughout the year a kilt store generously donate warm socks that are then passed on to the homeless and people who need them the most. This need is heightened over the winter months and in December a number of donations of socks were made as part of the Edinburgh Cheer Campaign.”
The Capital’s caring core came to the fore during the Evening News Edinburgh Cheer campaign as we teamed up with Tesco, Network Rail, Hibs, Hearts, NHS Lothian and the Scottish Government resulting in the donation of over 600 hampers supporting nearly 2000 people. Charity’s such as Destiny Angels will now distribute the thermal togs through the ‘Destiny Street Impact’ team which is made up of over 40 volunteers from Destiny Church Edinburgh.
Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster said: “The generosity of people never ceases to amaze us. It was great to see so many businesses and retailers supporting us in our efforts to try to keep the homeless as warm as possible as a big part of the Edinburgh Cheer campaign. We’re grateful for the support of all the partners including the Evening News.”