Mil­lions to be raised at city sleep-outs

Char­ity event will take place un­der the stars in Dundee for first time – in bid to erad­i­cate home­less­ness

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS - GAYLE RITCHIE gritchie@the­courier.co.uk

A ma­jor event aimed at help­ing erad­i­cate home­less­ness is com­ing to Dundee – with peo­ple be­ing asked to spend a cold, win­ter’s night in the city’s Slessor Gar­dens.

And the man be­hind Sleep in the Park says home­less­ness can be wiped out in and around Dundee with 100 prop­er­ties of­fered up to help get peo­ple off the streets.

Josh Lit­tle­john MBE, co-founder of so­cial en­ter­prise So­cial Bite, is bring­ing the char­ity’s sleep­out to Dundee for the first time.

The money raised as part of Sleep in the Park on De­cem­ber 8 in the city, and also in Glas­gow, Ed­in­burgh and Aberdeen on the same night, will go to­wards the group’s Hous­ing First ini­tia­tive, aimed at tak­ing as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble off the streets and into their own homes.

Crowds at the Dundee event – which it is hoped will at­tract 2,000 peo­ple – will be en­ter­tained by Kyle Fal­coner and With­ered Hand with more acts to be an­nounced.

The night will also fea­ture per­for­mances from KT Tun­stall and Amy Mac­Don­ald, who will play at all four events.

Josh told The Courier: “Last year, 8,000 peo­ple took part in the world’s largest sleep out in Ed­in­burgh, and raised an in­cred­i­ble £4 mil­lion in the process.

“This year we’re do­ing some­thing that’s never been done be­fore – hold­ing a si­mul­ta­ne­ous multi-city sleep-out in four of Scot­land’s ma­jor cities, and we’re look­ing for the peo­ple of Dundee to get be­hind the cause and join our move­ment to erad­i­cate home­less­ness.

“The money raised at Sleep in the Park 2018 will be put to­wards rapidly re­hous­ing rough sleep­ers across Scot­land as part of our Hous­ing First scheme, pro­vid­ing our most vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of so­ci­ety with sup­port.

“We will in­vest the funds so that home­less peo­ple in each of our four cities are given the help they need, and we’re so grate­ful to Dundee City Coun­cil for pledg­ing 100 homes as part of our Hous­ing First ini­tia­tive.”

Josh said the mis­sion is to erad­i­cate home­less­ness and ex­plained that the peo­ple in­volved in the pro­gramme will be “known to char­i­ties on the ground”.

He added: “They will be peo­ple who have been

Over the course of 18 months, we want to help 120 peo­ple

passed over by the sys­tem, who land­lords may not have oth­er­wise given a flat to. We’re do­ing it us­ing a ‘by name’ list, work­ing with front­line agen­cies, so they know the peo­ple who have been trapped in this cy­cle of home­less­ness.

“They’re usu­ally stay­ing in hos­tels or on the street, and they’re known to char­i­ties like the ones that we’re work­ing with so they can eval­u­ate the needs of peo­ple, and see who is most in need of our help. Over the course of 18 months, we want to help 120 peo­ple.”

Hous­ing First, which is based on a Fin­nish ini­tia­tive, has al­ready launched in Scot­land, with £3m of fund­ing from So­cial Bite and the Scot­tish Govern­ment con­tribut­ing a fur­ther £6.5m as Ni­cola Stur­geon an­nounced this week.

Pri­vate land­lords, the lo­cal author­ity and hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tions in Dundee have al­ready pledged 100 prop­er­ties for the pro­gramme, which will be used to house peo­ple who would oth­er­wise be home­less.

The project would also in­clude sup­port for com­plex needs that many home­less peo­ple may suf­fer with – such as drug or al­co­hol ad­dic­tion and men­tal health is­sues.

Josh hopes that Hous­ing First will shift peo­ple away from “tran­sient ac­com­mo­da­tion” such as hos­tels, and into “more main­stream ac­com­mo­da­tion”.

So­cial Bite will of­fer up a por­tion of the cash that is made through the sleep-out – hoped to be as much as £4m across the coun­try – to char­i­ties in each city.

As we near the end of a year in which Dundee’s for­tunes have felt very much on the up, it does no harm to be re­minded that not every­one is bask­ing equally in the V&A’s rosy glow.

The city’s first Sleep in the Park event is chal­leng­ing lo­cals to spend a cold, win­ter’s night in Slessor Gar­dens, to raise money to get rough sleep­ers into homes of their own. It is an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity to show the world that the new Dundee is as big-hearted as it has al­ways been.

Pic­tures: Jeff Holmes.

Last year’s Sleep in the Park at Princes Street Gar­dens in Ed­in­burgh. Right: Liam Gal­lagher en­ter­tain­ing at the event in the cap­i­tal 12 months ago.

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