Edinburgh Sleep in the Park donations top £3.6m

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Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Sir Bob Geldof joined thousands of people who slept out in freezing ­conditions in Edinburgh to raise money to tackle homelessness.

More than 8,000 people braved icy temperatures and spent the night in the city’s Princes Street Gardens as part of “the world’s biggest sleepout”, with donations so far ­topping £3.6 million.

Sleepers bed down for the night during the Sleep in the Park, West Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL

Sleepers bed down for the night during the Sleep in the Park, West Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL

Stars who performed at the Sleep in the Park event included Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Amy Macdonald and Frightened Rabbit. John Cleese performed a bedtime story while Geldof slept out and addressed the audience.

Event organiser Josh Littlejohn, co-founder of Social Bite, which helps the homeless through cafés, a restaurant and fundraising events, said he was “humbled” by the support.

READ MORE: Katie Hopkins lays into Edinburgh’s Sleep in the Park

He added: “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.”

He said the famous names brought “excitement” to the occasion but people had turned up for the cause of tackling homelessness rather than as music fans.

He said: “This concept of sleeping in the cold is such a daunting thing in people’s mind that it trumps Liam Gallagher and it trumps anyone else, but it just helps lend that level of excitement and gets people engaged in the issue.”

Macdonald said: “It seems absolutely ludicrous that in 2017 people are still sleeping out on the streets. It doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult to stop. “Hopefully the money goes a long way to try and help that.

“It’s just crazy in this 
day and age, it shouldn’t happen any more and it’s really great that there are charities like Social Bite willing to try and help, 
and try and make a difference.”

Mr Swinney, Communities Secretary Angela ­Constance and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart also spent the night in the gardens.

READ MORE: Thousands brave the cold for Sleep in the Park homelessness event