Josh Littlejohn: '˜Tell homeless that they're not forgotten'
Today is the day that the community gathers to fight against one of the major issues we face today, not just in Edinburgh '“ but Scotland, writes Josh Littlejohn
Thousands are uniting, from friends, celebrities and businesses, to make this idea evolve into something which is unique and fantastic.
Sleep in the Park will raise millions for one of the country’s biggest problems, something nobody should have to endure. The event enables everyone to focus on the task in hand, highlighting how we, as a country, need to eradicate homelessness.
I’m hoping this will send a message to those on the streets that they are not alone. We are a community who cares, and we want them to know they are not forgotten.
The first sleepout raised more than half a million pounds in Charlotte Square. To have local authority leaders and Nicola Sturgeon handing out bacon sandwiches was fantastic. The event taught me Scotland was a compassionate country. We had so much support and I believed then that we could go on to do it on a bigger scale.
We have spread the word that we are building a movement.
It was a big risk to come out and say we will get thousands of people sleeping outside and our ambitious mission statement.
We didn’t know if it would take off. At the end of the day we are a sandwich shop so it was a very daunting move. It makes me feel happy that I have helped contribute to this. It makes me feel proud of humanity and proud of Scotland that we can all come together to stick up for those most vulnerable.
Homeless people are easily ignored. It is our job to ensure it is impossible to ignore. However I do praise the Scottish Government for pledging £5 million in the next five years which is a huge commitment.
Booking Liam Gallagher was very good timing and I am delighted so many top names have got behind what we are doing.
It does seem that more people are willing to take part due to the cause rather than the acts themselves, although there is no doubt they have added to the excitement of the event.
This is just the first big step in a long journey for us. We are determined to do all we can eliminate homelessness.
The recent pledges of homes represents a radical shift in structure with the way we give shelter to homeless people. It is a real game changer because it will look to stop the use of B&Bs and hostels.
It is one thing to raise the money, but we then have to make sure we use the resources as best we can and provide support to these people when in accommodation.
That will be the key for us when the incredible music is over and the sleeping bags are rolled up. The fundraising doesn’t end tonight, you can still donate to the cause at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/endinghomelessness
We have been supported willingly and we want Scotland to be used as an example for the world to follow. I just can’t wait for it all to begin now.