Once upon a chilly night in Edinburgh

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It seems like a long time ago now but the Sleep in the Park event in Edinburgh will remain in our memories for a very long time.

We had been told to expect cold, it was December after all, but -7 was very, very cold and provided a scary insight into the hell of living on our streets without the benefit of hot drinks, sleeping bags and thermal clothing. That chilling numbness will linger on in our memories for a very long time!

That night some 9,000 people raised well over £3 million to help provide homes for people who have lost everything and to say that we are proud to have been part of that is putting it mildly.

The Motley Crew of KCP and Let's Promote pals raised £2,995 from some very generous corporate and personal donations (including the initial donation of £1,200 from KCP's MD Wendy Pring that started it all off), the sale of Christmas Tree Dream Catchers and unashamed begging and we are very happy with that.

As an exercise it was valuable in forcing some thinking from outside the box and it was an amazing cause to support.

And while the event itself was safe and secure and the entertainment out of this world but we are very conscious that it is most definitely not true for the poor souls forced to sleep on the streets day after day.

The whole event was organised by Social Bite and their Co-founder Josh Littlejohn told us this week: “We are making plans to keep growing the movement to end homelessness and up the fight with other major events planned towards the end of this year. We will keep you updated and hope to have you involved again.

The work outlined below is where we will be concentrating. We will be sending you a regular update email with the progress on all of these areas.

The 500 Homes Campaign - The UK's Largest Ever "Housing First" Program

The most significant and important area where we plan to use the money you raised is to support a major "Housing First" program. "Housing First" means turning the homelessness system on it's head. Rather than making extremely vulnerable people, often with complex needs, sleep rough or in hostels or B&Bs, we should aim to give people a secure place to call home right from the start and then fully support them to sustain their tenancy and integrate into society.

Before the sleep out, we successfully managed to secure significant pledges to housing for homeless people in Scotland. So far we have been offered 290 properties in Edinburgh from Edindex and others, as well as 200 properties in Glasgow and the Central Belt from Wheatley Group. We will be working hard to bring more properties into this program over the coming months throughout Scotland.

Our intention is to start placing people that are currently sleeping rough and in hostels and other temporary accommodation into this mainstream housing as soon as we can. We will help develop and support the delivery of significant "wrap-around" support with other homelessness charities, so that these vulnerable individuals are fully supported in their new tenancies. Support could range from help with addiction, mental health, counselling, money management, cooking lessons and social activities.”

He continued: “We are setting ourselves a target of 18 months to bring 500 people off the streets and out of homelessness, into a proper home with fully funded support. “

Other projects being funded from Sleep in the Park include:

The Social Bite Village

The Social Bite Village is expected to open this Spring, with 20 people coming out of homelessness and into a fully supported community living environment. Social Bite has partnered with the Cyrenians to provide a comprehensive support structure for the people living in the village, helping them find their feet as well as get a qualification and employment. This will include five full time support staff and 24/7 waking presence. Your funds will help us to finance this support service, ensuring that these people are fully helped back into society where they belong.

Outreach, Engagement and Food Distribution

Social Bite distribute over 100,000 items of food and hot drinks to the homeless every year. This includes various after hours events in three cities (Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen) where people receive support and guidance to help them back on their feet. We will be aiming to link this support to both the Social Bite Village and the Housing First program, helping the people we engage with into housing and comprehensive support.

A Major Jobs Program for Homeless People

At Social Bite around one in four of the workforce have struggled with homelessness. They provide structured, paid employment to people who are normally excluded from the labour market. As part of Sleep in the Park 160 additional jobs pledges were secured for the homeless.

Expanding the capacity of the Winter Night Shelter in Edinburgh

A significant donation has already been made to Bethany Christian Trust to expand the capacity of the Winter Night Shelter in Edinburgh. This will allow Bethany to never have to turn anybody away from the night shelter due to a lack of capacity - in this cold winter.

Supporting Other Charities in the Sector

Social Bite wants to make sure that other homeless charities and, more importantly homeless people, are an integral part of their plans to tackle homelessness and grow a collaborative movement. To this end they plan to assemble a panel of people with current or lived experience of homelessness to make recommendations to them for supporting a range of charities working tirelessly to alleviate homelessness.

These are amazing results from one event and we are proud to have been part of it. People have asked us if we would do it again - yes - but not for a while.. let someone else take the spot and raise money/awareness - we’ll target a different charity this year.

You will be hearing from us soon!

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