Sleep in the Park expands horizons with more events – and £6m target

Josh Littlejohn launches the latest Sleep in the Park event. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Josh Littlejohn launches the latest Sleep in the Park event. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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Scottish rock stars Amy Macdonald and KT Tunstall will perform in four cities in the one night as part of a major crusade against the blight of homelessness in Scotland.

They will fly around the country in a helicopter to help Social Bite founder Josh Littlejohn stage an expanded “Sleep in the Park” event in Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow.

Amy MacDonald will perform. Picture: Michael Gillen

Amy MacDonald will perform. Picture: Michael Gillen

The “multi-city sleep out” is expected to be Social Bite’s biggest ever fundraiser, with an initial target of £6 million set by Mr Littlejohn. It is hoped 12,000 people will sign up to brave the cold on 8 December, when other leading acts will also perform in each city.

Macdonald and Tunstall, who will start the night in Aberdeen and finish in Edinburgh, will play sets of around 20 minutes in each location.

Author Irvine Welsh will read “bedtime stories” to fund­raisers in Edinburgh, where comic Fred MacAulay will host the event. Other acts and hosts will be revealed over the next few months.

Mr Littlejohn – who has won the backing of George Clooney, Leonardo di Caprio, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – has set out ambitions to try to end homelessness in Scotland.

Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Frightened Rabbit, Rob Brydon and John Cleese were among those to entertain around 8,000 participants during the initial event last December, which raised more than £4m. Some of the proceeds from that event, which was staged in sub-zero temperatures, have help pay for 500 homes to be made available to homeless people and “rough sleepers”, 160 jobs being offered and 35 spare rooms being made available throughout the country.

Sleep in the Park also helped bankroll Scotland’s first “homeless village” in Granton, in north Edinburgh.

Princes Street Gardens will host the event in Edinburgh, Slessor Gardens and Duthie Park are the venues line up in Dundee and Aberdeen respectively, while Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park is pencilled in.

Mr Littlejohn said he wanted to help meet demand for more Sleep in the Park events as well as allow fundraising efforts to focus on the areas with the highest rates of homelessness.

Mr Littlejohn said: “We were completely blown away by the thousands of people who joined this movement and supported Sleep in the Park last year. There has been an overwhelming response from people who want to do it again.

“The event worked very well last year, but we wanted to make it much easier for people in other parts of the country to take part. We’re going to providing support for homeless people in all of these cities. There’s a real opportunity with the event to raise and invest money locally and provide support in a way that will make significant inroads.”

Mr Littlejohn said he hoped the sight of thousands of people sleeping out across Scotland would create a “political mandate” to end homelessness. He said: “We will be more campaign-orientated this year. If we want Scotland to be a country where no-one should be homeless, we need to make sure it is a political priority for the national government as well as each local authority.”