Social Bite hopes to raise millions through charity sleepout

Josh littlejohn launches sleep in the park web

A-list celebrities and thousands of people will be out in force for Sleep in the Park

30th August 2017 by Gareth Jones 1 Comment

Thousands of people in Edinburgh will be joined by A-list celebrities for the world’s biggest ever charity sleepout.

Social Bite announced it is to host Sleep in the Park on Saturday 9 December at West Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh.

The charity hopes that 9,000 people will sleep in the park to raise funds to fight homelessness – with a £4 million fundraising target set for the event.

Those who take part will be joined by Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Amy Macdonald, Frightened Rabbit and other special guests, who will be busking for the crowd.

Comedian Rob Brydon is the host for the night, and John Cleese will be reading a bedtime story.

A host of celebrities, sports personalities and politicians will sleep over in the gardens – and they will be joined by Sir Bob Geldof.

Sir Bob said: “I first met Josh and Alice from Social Bite five years ago and I am delighted to support them and their effort to eradicate homelessness in Scotland by sleeping out in the cold at the event. The event has the potential to be a game changer in tackling the issue and I am right behind it, even if a little nervous to brave a cold Scottish winter’s night.”

“You never expect to ask Sir Bob Geldof to sleep in a park. But we didn’t expect to do any of the events that have happened over the past five years,” said Social Bite co-founder Josh Littlejohn.

“We just follow each footstep with the next. Every event we put on is aimed at making as big an impact as we can.”

Social Bite started as a sandwich shop to benefit the homeless on Rose Street in Edinburgh in August 2012 and has now grown to five shops in Scotland, two large staff canteens in Edinburgh, a central production kitchen in Livingston and become one of the country’s leading independent corporate catering businesses.

Sleep in the Park represents the biggest fundraising event yet for Social Bite, and Littlejohn said the charity is determined to build on the momentum it has gained in recent years.

“It is really important,” said Littlejohn. “We have had some amazing events over the past five years, with A-list celebrities coming over. That gives you media attention and the attention of others, and you want to capitalise on that so you can have as big an impact as possible. We’d like this to become the Scottish Live Aid.”

Alongside Sleep in the Park, Social Bite has commissioned a study from Heriot Watt University entitled Eradicating Core Homelessness in Scotland to provide a fully-researched framework for the investment of the money raised from the event. The report will be published in September and it is expected that the funds will be spent on housing solutions, a nationwide employment program, addiction facilities, and outreach teams.

“It is crucial that we work with other charities,” said Littlejohn.

“We have structured the study so that rather than be led by academics, we have invited lots of different charities and setup focus groups in different communities.

“Almost all the smaller charities that work at ground level have contributed. That is going to help us shape our strategy and the political engagement for working with the government.”

Work is underway on the new Social Bite village which will see 10 purpose-built two-bedroom homes installed on a 1.5 acre site in Granton, providing a safe living environment for up to 20 people from homeless backgrounds. The first residents from Edinburgh’s homeless community are expected to move in before Christmas this year and Social Bite has been working with Cyrenians on the project.

Members of the public can join Sleep in the Park by committing to fundraising at least £100, and businesses can sponsor the event by signing up a team of five with a minimum fundraising commitment of £3,000.

11th September 2017 by John

As someone who works in Edinburgh’s homeless services, this whole 'enterprise'/event doesn’t sit right with me. I have yet to see what difference social bite has made to the lives of our homeless people. It certainly seems to have done well in terms of celebrity/media attention and growing their business - and I see their upmarket 'Home' restaurant is always full with upper middle class people, who no doubt think they are doing the ‘right-on’ liberal thing helping the disadvantaged by having their £50 lunch in a social enterprise business. To my mind, 'sleeping out' does nothing but minimise the plight of rough sleeping; how does sleeping out in the collective safety of a few hundred others with famous bands serenading you to sleep collate with what homeless people face? This is nothing more than normalising homelessness, normalising the state’s failure to address the needs of its citizens and using the needy and excluded members of our community to further a business brand and gain marketing it otherwise couldn’t afford? Might have guessed establishment stalwart Geldof would get his oar in somewhere… these people who do charity ‘sleep outs’ and ‘fun-runs’ to raise awareness for whatever issues, whether cancer, child abuse, homelessness are nothing more than narcissistic megalomaniacs seeking to appease their own anxiety with how bad things in society are! Before anyone shoots me down, think, BBC children in need and comic relief both appease our collective guilt about institutional child abuse, child neglect, racism and inequality once a year. But the BBC ran a paedophile ring and is rife with scandal, gender inequality, racism etc, Comic relief take the money you donate and invest it in weapons, tobacco and other morally bankrupt endeavours! As much as I love Deacon Blue, I will be giving this a big body-swerve and will instead be working with the vulnerable and homeless rather than helping by proxy through the mediation of a ‘social enterprise’. This whole thing reminds me of the very distasteful fashion in the early nineties for having sponsored 24 hour famines in aid of African children who really were starving! What next? Sponsored hopping about on one leg for a few hours in aid of land mine victims?... A sponsored dinghy race across the Firth of Forth in aid of the thousands of refugees drowning in the med whilst running from the weapons the UK has sold to their dictators / ‘moderate rebels’? People shouldn’t need celebrities or big bands to take an interest in society’s ills! And how come Social Bite get the green light for projects which other organisations have been knocked back on for decades?