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Housing

Social Bite mass sleepout raises more than £3.2 million

More than 10,000 people braved the cold across four Scottish cities in a bid to house 830 rough sleepers

More than 10,000 people have taken part in the world’s biggest sleepout to give “a voice to the people who have never had one” across Scotland.

Social Bite’s Sleep in the Park event has raised more than £3.2 million so far after people bedded down in Edinburgh, for the second-year running, as well as in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen for the first time.

Last year, the inaugural event generated funds to pay for the social enterprise’s homeless village in Granton while this year’s star-studded iteration will use their Housing First scheme to offer 830 rough sleepers a sustainable home.

Social Bite, who run a chain of sandwich shop offering jobs to homeless people, have paid £3m towards the program with the Scottish government pledging the remaining £6.5m. Amy MacDonald and KT Tunstall were the headline acts, performing stripped-down acoustic busking-style sets in all four cities, while Lulu guested in Edinburgh and Biffy Clyro made a surprise appearance in Glasgow.

The event also marked the return to the stage for Frightened Rabbit, who paid tribute to late frontman Scott Hutchison following his death in May. His brother and bandmate Grant said: “Social Bite has encouraged Scotland to consider homelessness as something that can be eradicated completely from the country. For us to be a part of such an ambitious movement is an honour.

“The links between mental health and homelessness are undeniable and for Frightened Rabbit to be able to highlight both problems by playing our songs is a great opportunity. Away from the music, Trainspotting scribe Irvine Welsh told a bedtime story to the attendees in Edinburgh, whilst other cities got a story from Orwell Book Prize winner Darren Loki McGarvey and Aberdeen FC Manager Derek McInnes.

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Social Bite co-founder Josh Littlejohn MBE has insisted that this year’s event will be the last – but believes that it is fulfilled its purposes of placing a “razor-sharp focus on the issue”.

“This is a night that we collectively gave a voice to the people who have never had one – and the event will have the very direct impact of helping 830 people off the streets in Scotland,” he said. “It is not a question of resource, it is simply a question of focus. And what the participants have all done tonight, by giving up their beds is put a razor-sharp focus on the issue.”

Images: Social Bite

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