Sleep in the park Edinburgh: Thousands attend last ever event

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THousands of people joined a mass sleep-out in Princes Street Gardens to help raise millions of pounds to help the homeless.

Sleep in the Park on Saturday night saw the crowds beneath the Castle entertained by a succession of stars giving their support to the cause.

Maddie Fleming (Black scarf) Katie Roper (Grey Scarf) and Hazel Parkinson (black hat) - a group who all work for the Scottish Government

Maddie Fleming (Black scarf) Katie Roper (Grey Scarf) and Hazel Parkinson (black hat) - a group who all work for the Scottish Government

The Edinburgh event was co-ordinated with similar sleep-outs in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.

Lulu headlined the event in Edinburgh, with comedian Fred MacAulay hosting.

And two of the celebrities were whisked from one to another so they could appear in all four places.

Amy Macdonald and KT Tunstall performed a selection of their hits in each city.

Irvine Welsh reading a bedtime story at the SocialBite 'Sleep in the Park' in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Irvine Welsh reading a bedtime story at the SocialBite 'Sleep in the Park' in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

The pair were originally meant to be taken by helicopter between cities but ended up going by car and van.

Macdonald said: “I just want to say it’s a privilege to be here and be a small part of this. It’s such a worthy cause and it’s so amazing that you guys are doing this.”

And Tunstall said: “I’m kind of amazed that I’m here. They’ve got this amazing helicopter that looks just like a transit van. It’s really square and it’s got wheels. But I’d do anything to get to all these shows and play for everyone. It’s such a great honour to be here.”

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh was also in Princes Street Gardens to read a “bedtime story”.

Amy MacDonald performing at Kelvingrove Bandstand in Glasgow for the SocialBite 'Sleep in the Park'. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Amy MacDonald performing at Kelvingrove Bandstand in Glasgow for the SocialBite 'Sleep in the Park'. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Others acts appearing in the Gardens included Admiral Fallow with an acoustic set, Martha Ffion, Siobhan Wilson and Michael Pedersen.

The sleep-out was organised by Social Bite entrepreneur Josh Littlejohn and has already raised £3.2 million in sponsorship and donations and the aim is to reach £4m.

Those taking part had to pledge to raise at least £100 to secure a place at the event, with corporate teams being asked to pay a minimum of £3000.

The cash goes towards tackling homelessness through housing projects and employment programmes, and supporting those on the streets with shelters and hot food and drink.

KT Tunstall performing at Kelvingrove Bandstand in Glasgow for the SocialBite 'Sleep in the Park'. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

KT Tunstall performing at Kelvingrove Bandstand in Glasgow for the SocialBite 'Sleep in the Park'. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Frightened Rabbit, playing their first gig since lead singer Scott Hutchison died in May, played at Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow.

Eddi Reader headlined Aberdeen’s show in Duthie Park, while Kyle Falconer, lead singer of The View, topped the bill in Slessor Gardens, Dundee.

Mr Littlejohn said: “It’s been a lot of work but it’s been worth it.

“We’ve got a great turnout in all the cities and we’re going to raise a fantastic sum of money so it’s all been worthwhile.

“Amy performed the previous year and is a big supporter of ours – she did Celebrity Pointless and chose Social Bite as her chosen charity – so we kind of hoped she would do it.

“It’s certainly a big ask of them to go round four cities so I’m delighted that they both accepted.”

Lulu performing at the SocialBite 'Sleep in the Park' in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Lulu performing at the SocialBite 'Sleep in the Park' in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

He said he hoped the money raised this year would help a minimum of 830 people off the streets, out of homelessness into their own home with support over the next 18 months to two years.

Last year, 8000 people braved sub-zero temperatures to join the world’s biggest sleep-out in Princes Street Garden and raised £4m for the homeless while calling for an end to homelessness in Scotland.

Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Frightened Rabbit, Rob Brydon and John Cleese were among those who appeared last December.

Some of the money raised went to help build the Social Bite village in Granton, where 20 homeless people now live.

It also helped finance a “Housing First” programme to give 800 homeless people mainstream tenancies across Scotland.

But Mr Littlejohn has said he will not be repeating Sleep in the Park next year.

He said organising this year’s event had taken four times the work of last year’s. He explained many people who took part in the inaugural sleep-out had seen it as a once-in-a-lifetime event.

But Mr Littlejohn said he was already working on ideas for a “new and different” event to launch next year.