830 homes pledged for rough sleepers as Sleep in the Park raises more than £3.2m
Donations for homeless people in Scotland topped £3.2 million as more than 10,000 people came together in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen took part in the world’s biggest sleepout on Saturday.
Organised by Social Bite, participants in the Sleep in the Park event each raised a minimum of £100 to show their support.
Social Bite’s ongoing work has resulted in a total of 830 houses being pledged to a nationwide ‘Housing First’ Program to enable rough sleepers to get their own long term tenancies with “wrap-around” support.
In June 2018, Social Bite made a commitment to contribute £3m to the costs of this support, which money raised from the night will go towards. This investment, combined with a pledge of £6.5m from the Scottish Government means that the Housing First Program is fully funded for 830 people to be helped off the streets.
Josh Littlejohn MBE, Social Bite co-founder, said: “Tonight was a night when people from all walks of life came together across Scotland - to stick up for the most vulnerable people among us. This is a night that we collectively gave a voice to the people who have never had one - and the event will have the very direct impact of helping 830 people off the streets in Scotland.
“There are 11,000 homeless households in Scotland. When I think about all of the amazing different people, sleeping out throughout Scotland tonight, the one thing that strikes me is that homelessness isn’t insurmountable. Scotland is a small enough country, a compassionate enough country and a collaborative enough country, where nobody has to be homeless here.
“It is not a question of resource, it is simply a question of focus. And what the participants have all done tonight, by giving up their beds is put a razor sharp focus on the issue.”
Mr Littlejohn added: “I would like to thank all of the participants for creating this movement. I would like to thank Clydesdale Bank for its incredible fundraising effort too.
“I would like to thank all of the housing providers for making a commitment of offering 830 homes to rough sleepers and homeless people and I would like to thank the Scottish Government for their bold commitment of £6.5m to co-invest in funding the support for vulnerable people in their new tenancies.
“We won’t end homelessness after one night, but we have made one giant leap towards that goal. And that is the achievement of everyone who took part.”
David Duffy, chief executive of CYBG plc, owners of Clydesdale Bank, added: “It’s hard to appreciate the difficulties those people sleeping rough experience. That’s why events like Sleep in the Park are vital for giving us even a little perspective and focusing our minds on why our support is so essential. It was a remarkable evening and totally inspiring to see how our colleagues got behind it, both in person and giving generously.”
Those attending the sleepouts enjoying stripped back ‘busking’ sets from various musicians. Amy MacDonald and KT Tunstall played in all four cities in one night, Lulu performed in Edinburgh and Biffy Clyro made a surprise performance in Glasgow.
The night also marked the first performance of Frightened Rabbit since the passing of lead singer Scott Hutchison in a poignant and powerful tribute to the late frontman.
Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh told a bedtime story to the attendees in Edinburgh, whilst other cities got a story from Orwell Book Prize winner Darren ‘Loki’ McGarvey and Aberdeen FC manager Derek McInnes.
Grant Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit said: “Social Bite has encouraged Scotland to consider homelessness as something that can be eradicated completely from the country. For us to be a part of such an ambitious movement is an honour. The links between mental health and homelessness are undeniable and for Frightened Rabbit to be able to highlight both problems by playing our songs is a great opportunity.
“The people who have made a huge effort to raise money and give themselves a small insight in to one night of the life of a homeless person should be applauded but it is only a small insight and we can’t forget that when we all go home to our warm beds there are people who don’t have such fortune. I’m proud to have been part of an event encouraging action and not just words.”
Irvine Welsh, who read participants a bedtime story on the night, said: “It’s hard to call this a great event as it’s an ongoing obscenity that it’s required, but it does show that people, unlike governments, have big hearts and are prepared to stand alongside their sisters and brothers in need.”
Eddi Reader, who performed in Aberdeen, said: “Sleep in the Park is an extraordinary event bringing people together from all over Scotland in the common aim of trying to end homelessness in Scotland. Social Bite are at the forefront of raising awareness of this issue, they are passionate about their work and are making a real difference to people’s lives. I am delighted to be a part of it.”
Fundraising is open until Christmas Eve and donations can be made at www.sleepinthepark.co.uk.