Edinburgh’s ‘Big Sleep Out’ goes global

Thousands of people throughout the world have come together in solidarity in the fight to end homelessness.

The World’s Big Sleep Out, which took place on Saturday night and saw over 50 cities taking part, was founded right here in Edinburgh.

The co-founder of Scottish charity Social Bite, Josh Littlejohn, held the first Sleep in the Park in 2016, which saw 300 people braving the cold to raise money for homelessness charities in the capital.

Since then, the numbers have grown into the thousands. This year, for the first World’s Big Sleep Out, around 60,000 people took part to experience a night in the shoes of someone less fortunate than themselves.

This initiative hopes to raise £38 million for homelessness charities. It saw people around the world sleeping rough for the night in order to raise awareness of the continued global issue of homelessness.

Some of the cities involved this year included Barcelona, Dublin, Brussels and Brisbane. More than a few Hollywood A-listers did their bit, ranging from Will Smith’s speech, to the crowds in Times Square in New York, to Helen Mirren’s bedtime story at Trafalgar Square in London.

A Social Bite sandwich shop

Social Bite, which started as a small sandwich shop on Edinburgh’s Rose Street offering employment and free food to the homeless, is now known worldwide for spreading the word and getting people involved in this call to action of eradicating homelessness.

Analysis of Scottish Household Survey data points to around 5,300 adults sleeping rough at least once a year in Scotland. Reducing homelessness is now a pressing issue for the Scottish Government, with more money being put towards it every year.

The event in Edinburgh, in which thousands withstood the wet and windy weather of the night, was opened by actor Brian Cox.

Edinburgh residents were out in full force to show their support, with orange sleeping bags filling the West Princes Street Gardens.

Here’s what a few of them had to say: