More than 300 of the most influential people in the country took to Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square to sleep rough on Thursday for the Social Bite CEO Sleepout to raise funds for a village for homeless people.
Social Bite plans to provide a low-cost, supervised and safe living environment for up to 20 homeless people with 10 purpose-built homes in Granton, Edinburgh, and needs to raise £500,000.
Participants included Olympic cycling veteran Sir Chris Hoy, who said the concept was “really simple” and that it was great to see the impact it was having for those in the homeless community.
Ms Sturgeon, who was mobbed for selfies, said all participants were “absolutely amazing” and she had enjoyed serving bacon rolls to the “hungry hoards”.
She said: “I have to tell you that the Scottish Government has been well represented here this evening if not by me in person - somebody had to keep an eye on running the country while you were all sleeping out here in Charlotte Square.
“And just before you ask, they did volunteer. They weren’t press ganged into doing it, but I do expect to see them at their desks at eight o’clock bright eyed and bushy tailed.”
She added: “I think we should be aspiring to live in a country where nobody is homeless or sleeps rough.
“Now it’s easy to say that but it’s much more difficult to make sure we deliver that.
“It’s partly about making sure that we have got enough good supply of affordable homes and the Scottish Government has got a big target, but also making sure that we are supporting the kinds of services that tackle the underlying causes of homelessness.”
Around £40,000 worth of camping equipment donated by Tresspass was given to participants upon entering the site which included a ground sheet, sleeping bag and a survival bag. After the event all equipment will be donated to homeless people in Scotland.
Work is expected to begin on the village early next year, with the first residents moving in by the summer.
It will be run by Social Bite with the EDI Group and the City of Edinburgh Council.
Social Bite co-founder Josh Littlejohn said: “There’s quite a few bleary eyes here this morning and it’ll take people a while to shake off the cold but every one of the individuals taking part in the CEO Sleepout will have the warm feeling that they’ve done something great to help people less fortunate than themselves.”
Social Bite cafes allows customers to ‘’pay forward’’ meals for the homeless and around a quarter of its staff are formerly homeless.
Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio stopped for lunch at Social Bite venture Home in Edinburgh’s west end last month and his visit followed that of Hollywood star George Clooney to Social Bite’s Rose Street branch in the city a year earlier.