Homeless campaigner Josh Littlejohn will stage his biggest event in December when a host of celebrities will join 50,000 people in the World’s Big Sleep Out.
Mr Littlejohn wants to raise $50 million by encouraging supporters in 50 locations across the globe to take part in the event on 7 December.
Originating in Scotland as Sleep in the Park, the event has now gone global for a one-off year to be part of a collaborative effort to tackle homelessness around the world.
This year’s Edinburgh event will be held in West Princes Street Gardens with stripped back, live acoustic music performances which will be announced soon. The local beneficiary for the event will be Social Bite who will receive 50% of all funds raised which will go straight back into helping the local area.
The other 50% will go to global homelessness charities helping homeless people, including children, men and women displaced due to conflict, violence, natural disasters and poverty.
Research by the Institute of Global Homelessness shows that figures have reached a new level with more than a 100 million people homeless and displaced around the world.
Each of the city locations have now been confirmed along with a host of celebrities, musicians, Olympians, acting royalty, top broadcasters and influential politicians who will take part in sleep out events on the night.
Will Smith and Dame Helen Mirren will lead the way by telling a bedtime story in Times Square (New York) and Trafalgar Square (London) respectively. Among those signed up are Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, presenter and model Lisa Snowdon, six-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy, ITV news presenter Julie Etchingham, singer Jamelia, author Giovanna Fletcher, chief fire officer Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton and TV and radio presenters Kate Garraway, Cherry Healey, Angela Scanlon and Anita Rani.
Anita Rani, who recently tackled plastic waste, will join the Sleep Out
The board of The World’s Big Sleep Out Trust is chaired by homelessness expert Dame Louise Casey.
Cities and towns confirmed to be taking part include: London (Trafalgar Square and The Oval), New York (Times Square), Edinburgh (West Princes Street Gardens), Dublin, Belfast, Chicago, Cardiff, Newcastle, Newport, Brighton, Manchester, Los Angeles, New Delhi, Vina Del Mar, Madrid, Rijeka, Kharkiv, Brisbane, Manila, Cebu, Amsterdam, Patna, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Chennai, Coimbatore, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Philadelphia, San Jose (Costa Rica), Malibu and Singapore
People are urged to register for an official event or sign up to “Host Your Own” sleep out in their backyard, office car park, high school or university campus by visiting www.bigsleepout.com.
Registration is now open with each participant committing to fundraising as much as they can. 100% of funds raised will go towards homelessness charities, with a 50/50 split between local and global charities helping homeless and displaced people.
As well as benefiting local charities, international partners for the campaign include UNICEF USA, Malala Fund and the Institute of Global Homelessness.
Organisations supporting the campaign include Nasdaq, eBay, Weightwatchers, WPP, CYBG and Microsoft. Oak Foundation has also pledged $1million to the campaign.
This global event follows on from the success of Social Bite’s Sleep in the Park events in 2017 and 2018, which were held in Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow and Aberdeen. The mass fundraisers saw around 18,000 people give up their beds over the last two years, raising a total of almost £8 million.
A new charity called The World’s Big Sleep Out Trust has been established to govern the funds raised from this global event, whilst funds raised in the USA will be managed by UNICEF USA with the support of Robin Hood Foundation.
Mr Littlejohn, Social Bite and WBSO founder, 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 or in your back garden with your family, by sleeping out for one night on 7 December we can simultaneously express our compassion for homeless people who have no other choice and raise lifesaving 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.”
Dame Helen Mirren said: “Homelessness on our streets is a real problem in the UK and for many nations throughout the world. This coupled with an unprecedented number of refugees being displaced internationally makes this a really important time to focus attention on the issue of global homelessness.
“The World’s Big Sleep Out campaign will play an important role in shining the political spotlight on the issues of homelessness and displacement whilst raising considerable funds to make a big difference.”
Dame Louise said: “Homelessness is an urgent, deadly issue that affects people in all nations, but it is an issue that can be solved. The World’s Big Sleep Out is an act of compassion for our fellow citizens; a way to raise much-needed funds and a campaign for lasting change where everyone has a place to call home.”