No-one will have to sleep rough in Edinburgh all winter after funding

A MAJOR fundraising drive should ensure no-one has to sleep rough in the Capital this Christmas.

Tuesday, 21st November 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 7:56 am
Alice Thomson and Josh Littlejohn, co founders of Social Bite, with Bethany Christian Trusts Ruth Longmuir (Care Van and Care Shelter Manager) and Cameron Black (Emergency & Resettlement Group Head).

Ethical sandwich shop Social Bite has donated £25,000 to homeless shelter Bethany Christian Trust to provide extra beds this winter.

The cash comes from the Rose Street social enterprise cafe’s celebrity-endorsed Sleep in the Park event next month.

“I’d like to thank the incredible people who have signed up to take part in Sleep in the Park who have raised almost £2 million so far,” said Josh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of Social Bite. “It’s through their commitment that we’re able to make this early release of funds to Bethany today, which will ensure no-one has to sleep rough in Edinburgh all winter due to lack of capacity.

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“Sleep in the Park is about bringing the people of Scotland together for one night to support a single cause.

“There is a beautiful symmetry between people from all walks of life sleeping rough for the night, while those less fortunate are able to seek warmth and shelter.”

Started in August 2012, Social Bite now has five shops in Scotland, with Hollywood superstars Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney having visited while in Edinburgh.

Social Bite is also the largest distributor of free fresh food to homeless in the UK, giving out more than 100,000 items of food and hot drinks per year.

Sleep in the Park takes place on December 9, billed as the world’s biggest sleep out, with about 9,000 people set to congregate in West Princes Street Gardens.

A night’s entertainment in the open air will include live performances from Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Amy MacDonald and Frightened Rabbit.

Places are still available and the public have until next Friday, December 1, to sign up – gaining entry by committing to fundraise at least £100 for the cause.

Businesses can sponsor the event by signing up a team of five with a minimum fundraising commitment of £3,000.

The Bethany Christian Trust’s Care Shelter provides a free night shelter and sleeping ­facilities to the homeless in ­Edinburgh.

Regularly over-subscribed, the money from Sleep in the Park will pay for increased staffing to support the project and ensure that no-one is turned away this winter.

Started in Edinburgh in 1996 with a two-week pilot over Christmas, the shelter has grown over the years to span six and a half months over the winter, from October until April. Funded by donations, the service is run by a small team of staff and about 1,000 volunteers from churches across the Lothians, providing beds and hot meals.

Cameron Black from the Bethany Christian Trust said: “We are extremely grateful for the support that Social Bite has given to the Care Shelter and the hope is we won’t have to turn anyone away this winter thanks to the additional funding.

“It’s so very welcome in the context of the rising number of presentations over the last five winters in particular.

“The money will make a very real difference and we will have extra staff in place from the first week in December thanks to the donation.”