‘World’s biggest sleepout’ raises £3.6m for homeless

About 8000 people spent the night in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens on Saturday.

Source: ‘World’s biggest sleepout’ raises £3.6m for homeless

About 8000 people spent the night in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens on Saturday.

Sleepout: Thousands joined event in Edinburgh.
Sleepout: Thousands joined event in Edinburgh. Stewart Attwood

At least £3.6m has been raised for the homeless in Scotland by 8000 people who slept outside overnight in freezing conditions.

The event in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens on Saturday was described as “the world’s biggest sleepout”.

Stars signed up to perform at the event included Liam Gallagher and Frightened Rabbit, while John Cleese performed a bedtime story and Bob Geldof joined sleepers.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney, housing Minister Kevin Stewart and communities secretary Angela Constance and also spent the night in the gardens.

Organiser Josh Littlejohn said he was “humbled” by the support.

Mr Littlejohn, co-founder of the sandwich shop Social Bite, which raises money for the homeless, 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.

“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.”

Mr Littlejohn said he hoped the event would lead to a structural change in homelessness in Scotland to the Housing First model, following pledges that around 475 homes for homeless people will be provided across the central belt by the EdIndex Partnership and Wheatley Group.

He said: “That’s almost 500 homes in the central belt alone that have been offered and that’s going to get people out of sleeping rough, out of hostels and out of the homeless system and give something that we all take for granted, which is a stable place to call home.”

He said the charity would fund a support package for those in the new homes and it has already donated £25,000 of sleepout cash to fund extra capacity at a winter care shelter.

Fundraising is open until Christmas Eve and donations can be made online.