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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Sleep in the Park raises £3.6 million for fight against homelessness

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More than 8,000 people braved icy conditions for the mass sleepout in Edinburgh

A charity sleepout has been dubbed a huge success after raising millions of pounds to prevent homelessness in Scotland.

Temperatures hit as low as minus eight on Saturday night (9 December) for the first Sleep in the Park, which was organised by Social Bite in a bid to bring an end people sleeping rough in Scotland.

More than 8,000 participants attended the event at Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, which has already raised more than £3.6 million.

Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Amy Macdonald and Frightened Rabbit all performed stripped back acoustic sets at the event, which participants had to raise more than £100 to take part in.

Josh Littlejohn MBE, Social Bite co-founder, said: "Tonight was the night when people from all walks of life came together in Scotland, to stick up for the most vulnerable people among us. This is the night that we collectively gave a voice to the people who have never had one.

“There are 11,000 homeless households in Scotland. When I think about all of the amazing different people, sleeping in this garden tonight, the one thing that strikes me about these statistics of homelessness is that they are not insurmountable.

“Scotland is a small enough country, a compassionate enough country and a collaborative enough country, where nobody has to be homeless here. If we put our heads together, we can wipe out homelessness in five years."

John Cleese told a bedtime story at the event and Rob Brydon, Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bob Geldolf also spoke to the crowd.

Social Bite announced last week that a significant amount of funding generated from Sleep in the Park will go towards funding support for vulnerable people in 475 new homes which are being built for the homeless in Scotland.

Littlejohn said he recognised that ending homelessness would not be easy, but that it is an acheivable goal.

“It is not a question of resource; it is simply a question of focus," he said. "And what the participants have all done tonight, by giving up their beds, is put a razor-sharp focus on the issue. I would like to thank all of the participants for creating this movement. I would like to thank Clydesdale Bank for raising £500,000. And I would like to thank EdIndex and Wheatley Group for making a bold commitment of offering almost 500 homes to rough sleepers and homeless people.

“We won't end homelessness after one night, but we have made one giant leap towards that goal. And that is the victory of everyone who took part."