Newcastle is gearing up for a mass charity event that it hopes will help eliminate homelessness in the city.
And a very special star has lent his support to Newcastle’s attempts to solve the problem of rough sleeping.
The World’s Big Sleepout event will see tens of thousands of people across the planet braving a winter night outdoors in order to raise awareness about homelessness and raise money for homelessness charities.
50 cities will participate in the sleepout, which will be held on 7th December, including Barcelona, Delhi, Edinburgh and New York.
Around 50,00 people will take part in the World’s Big Sleepout. It is estimated that about 68.5 million people in the world are homeless or displaced.
The money raised in Newcastle will go to Street Zero, a partnership which aims to end rough sleeping in the city by 2020.
Partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors – including Newcastle City Council, and the charities Changing Lives and Crisis – have worked out a city-wide plan to help rough sleepers transition towards independent living.
Earlier this week, Game of Thrones star Ben Crompton joined a press event at Exhibition Park to publicise the Big Sleepout. The park is where the sleepout will take place.
Also present were Bob Eldridge MBE, the chair of the Street Zero partnership, and Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for housing, Cllr Linda Hobson.
Bob Eldridge said, “Street Zero has brought together experts from the full spectrum of support services across the city to collaborate and effectively help those sleeping rough.”
“It is clear that, the majority of the time, rough sleeping is not a choice, but a result of many accumulating pressures that can affect anyone at any stage of their life.”
“By treating people with dignity, responding to their individual needs and providing them with a long-term safe and stable place to live, Newcastle can take action to help people transition from life on the streets and sustain this change.”
“The World’s Big Sleep Out in Exhibition Park will be a fantastic event bringing the city together. It is a great opportunity for people in Newcastle to make a direct contribution to ending rough sleeping here in our city.”
Cllr Linda Hobson said: “Homelessness is an issue we all have a responsibility for as even one person without a place to call home is too many.”
“In Newcastle, a lot of incredible work already takes place to support people, but we can always do more. The World’s Big Sleepout will highlight the problem on a global scale and will allow us to help people across the world as well as those in our city.”
“When we gather for the night at Exhibition Park, we do so knowing the following night we’ll be able to keep warm and dry in our homes, but for some that isn’t a possibility. Let’s come together to help change that.”
The World’s Big Sleepout was started by Josh Littlejohn MBE. Josh also founded the charity Social Bite, which started life as a sandwich shop in Edinburgh in 2012.
Social Bite soon grew into a major force attempting to tackle homelessness in Scotland. A quarter of Social Bite’s staff are homeless.
Sleep in the Park events in 2017 and 2018, organised by Social Bite, saw over 18,000 people sleeping out and nearly £8 million raised for homelessness causes in Scotland.
Social Bite has been visited by Hollywood actors Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney.
Josh Littlejohn said, “I am blown away by the response to the World’s Big Sleep Out so far and incredibly excited to have 50 cities all over the world taking part.”
“It doesn’t matter if you are taking part in Times Square, New York, or in your back garden with your family, by sleeping out for one night on 7th December we can simultaneously express our compassion for homeless people who have no other choice and raise life-saving funds to make a difference.”
“We can also send a message to the world’s political leaders that urgent action is required to address the human suffering that we each witness on our streets every day.”
If you would like to take part in the World’s Big Sleepout in Newcastle, please go to https://www.bigsleepout.com/join-a-sleep-out/newcastle.
(Featured image courtesy of Kid Clutch, from Flickr Creative Commons)