Cold but dry night for final ‘Sleep in the Park’

Sleepers prepare to bed down for the night at the Princes Street Gardens 'Sleep in the Park' event/

By Alejandro Basterrechea

Around 12,000 people across Scotland took part in the ‘Sleep in the Park’ charity event on Saturday night.

Held in four cities across Scotland in partnership with charity Social Bite, public spaces in  Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Dundee were filled with participants looking to experience what it is like to sleep rough and to support a good cause.

From early Saturday evening to 6am Sunday morning, participants camped out in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens in an effort to help create consciousness around the housing problems and homelessness in the country.

Despite the good response from people, Social Bite founder Josh Littlejohn said that he would have to wind up the event after fundraising efforts will fall short of targets this year. However, he confirmed that he is working on ideas for a new event to launch next year.

Participant Stephanie Cora from Glasgow, said: ”It was a great night, with good music, atmosphere and thankfully no rain. I heard it could be the last time, it is a shame. But I’m sure Josh will come up with another good idea.’

In the capital, where around 4,000 people participated, the event was staged in West Princes Street Gardens with performances from Lulu, Admiral Fallow, Siohban Wilson and Martha Ffion.

Admiral Fallow performs at ‘Sleep in the Park’ in Edinburgh

Scottish singers KT Tunstall and Amy MacDonald performed in all four locations, travelling by a helicopter supplied by Andrew and Yvonne Devlin of Curtis Moore Group.

Performances started around 6:30 pm, with the main acts starting around 10 pm.

Lights were switched off at around 11:30 pm for what was a cold but dry night with temperatures around 3-4 degrees.

This edition of ‘Sleep in the Park’ was announced last summer, when Littlejohn hoped to sign up to 12,000 people and raise at least £6m to eradicate homelessness in Scotland within 5 years.

This year, the event raised around £3 million at mass sleeps across Scotland, which despite not being what the founder expected, received good support from locals and on social media.

To participate people had to pay an entry fee of £50 and agree to raise at least £100, in order to  secure a ticket to the event. Corporate teams were asked to pay a minimum of £3000.

The prizes for the top fundraisers were a Christmas hamper from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the chance to meet Nobel Peace winner Malala Yousafzai at a charity gala in March.

Second time participant, Elizabeth Martin from Edinburgh, said: “I’m surprised they are not continuing with the event next year. I heard that they were unable to encourage more people to sleep out this year.”

The first event in 2017 had more than 8,000 people who braved sub-zero temperatures in Princes Street Gardens and raised a total of more than £4 million.