THOUSANDS of people are preparing to descend on Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens for a mass charity sleepout in aid of the homeless.
The Sleep in the Park event on Saturday evening will feature performances by Liam Gallagher, John Cleese and Rob Brydon and has already raised more than £2.9 million, with 8000 due to take part.
Organisers Social Bite is currently developing a “village” in Edinburgh to give homes to rough sleepers.
A number of key figures have committed to joining the sleepout, including Sir Bob Geldof and Communities Secretary Angela Constance.
Ms Constance said: “Along with ministerial colleagues I am delighted to be able to take part and support Social Bite’s sleep out.
“The Scottish Government is committed to eradicating rough sleeping which is why we established our Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, which Social Bite takes part in. We are already implementing their first recommendations to tackle rough sleeping this winter and that work now continues as we strive to end rough sleeping for good.”
Ahead of the event, it emerged almost 500 new homes were being made available for rough sleepers in Scotland’s central belt as part of efforts to address “unprecedented pressures” on services.
The properties, predicted to number around 475, will be available in Edinburgh, Glasgow and the other parts of the region.
Josh Littlejohn, co-founder of Social Bite, said: “What’s happening here is a real game changer and will allow us to collectively and collaboratively restructure the system.
“The Housing First model is statistically proven to be the single most effective homelessness intervention that we can do.
“It means that rather than making vulnerable homeless people live in the homelessness system, sleeping in hostels, the streets and B&Bs, we offer them a proper place to call home, and provide a wrap-around and well-resourced support package for them to make sure they sustain that tenancy.”