Liam Gallagher

More than 8,000 are sleeping rough overnight in sub-zero conditions to raise money to tackle homelessness.

Dubbed the “world’s biggest sleepout’, the Sleep in the Park event in Edinburgh hopes to raise £4m to tackle rough sleeping and homelessness in Scotland.

Among those taking part are Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Frightened Rabbit, Rob Brydon, and Amy Macdonald.
John Cleese performed a bedtime story, while Sir Bob Geldof addressed the crowd.

Speaking to Sky News at the event, Geldof spoke of his days of being homeless in London: “I slept on the street and I found a church in Holborn, a crypt, where they gave you bit of a sponge that you could sleep on.

“My great fear was that at the age I am now I would be on a park bench and would be starting vacantly and listlessly at nothing.”

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Communities Secretary Angela Constance and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart are also spending the night in the gardens.

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

“It looks like we’re going to have about 8,000 people come and sleep out which is mind-blowing really for a country like Scotland, a small country, to get behind a cause like that,” he said.

“That’s going to translate to somewhere in the region of between £3m and £4m that’s going to be raised. It’s an absolutely incredible result.”
He said the famous names lend “excitement” to the occasion but people had turned up for the cause of tackling homelessness rather than as music fans.

He added: “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, so we’re really grateful for everyone that’s turned out to support.”

Singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald said: “It seems absolutely ludicrous that in 2017 that 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.”