Sleep-out raises more than £20k for youth homelessness in city

Unite student accommodation officers, clockwise from left, Libby Stephenson, Kerry Watson, Jennifer Finley and Sophie Bayliss. Picture: Colin Hattersley
Unite student accommodation officers, clockwise from left, Libby Stephenson, Kerry Watson, Jennifer Finley and Sophie Bayliss. Picture: Colin Hattersley
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Twenty-five years ago the Rock Trust hosted its debut charity sleep-out which helped pay for its first flat for the city’s young homeless people.

Since then more than 2,000 people have participated in the annual event raising over half a million pounds.

The funds go towards services enabling young people to develop personal skills and make a positive transition to adulthood while moving away from the possibility of homelessness.

A quarter of a century later the Rock Trust has a portfolio of 43 flats to accommodate 16 to 25-year-olds who end up homeless with 400 youngsters accessing its services every year. To mark its special anniversary, around 100 people slept out in St Andrew Square on Friday as temperatures dropped as low as 1˚C.

Circus performers, live music and a bedtime story provided entertainment for participants while hot food was served on the night and the following morning.

Supporters have already raised more than £20,000 which helps provide vital early interventions to stop young people falling into the crisis the Capital faces of people living on its streets.

Kate Polson, Rock Trust CEO, said: “Our annual sleep-outs are a vital source of funding for us, ensuring that we can plan ahead, invest in new projects and continue to respond to the changing needs of young people. But it isn’t just about fundraising.

“These events turn a spotlight on the very specific challenges facing homeless young people and encourage individuals in our community to feel that they can make a difference.”

Each person who ends up homeless has their own story to tell, with a relationship or family breakdown the main instigators behind how people end up without a roof over their head.

The Rock Trust provides crucial accommodation, services and advice to help turn their lives around from despair to a bright and prosperous future.

This includes a 24-year-old, known as “Sam”, who says he owes everything he has to the Rock Trust following a turbulent childhood which led him to living in a bus shelter for three-and-a-half-months.

He said: “The violence from my stepdad led me to quickly packing as many things into my school bag and leaving home. I had no idea what to do or what services were available. I got on a bus to get out of Edinburgh and away from home and got off at the last stop in Gilmerton and slept in the bus shelter. It was the lowest point in my life. I was living in my school uniform and was just eating packs of jelly because it’s all I could afford and going into leisure centres for showers.”

He was referred to the Rock Trust who gave him shelter and access to funds and services to help him through his education. And now Sam has graduated with a 2:1 in law at Edinburgh Napier University and has just bought his first home.

He said: “I really didn’t see all this happening. Without the Rock Trust none of this would have been possible. I can’t thank them enough for everything.”

Anyone wanting to support this year’s campaign can go to at www.rocktrust.org/donate

kieran.murray@jpress.co.uk