Four of Scotland’s top philanthropists have dug deep and each donated £25,000 to fund places for the nation’s young people to take up the Social Bite Sleep in the Park fundraising challenge.
2,000 places at Sleep in the Park – the world’s biggest sleepout – are on offer to school pupils over 16 and students. The donation, worth £100,000, has been made by a group of the country’s leading philanthropists; John Watson OBE (founder of the Watson Foundation), Bruce Whishart (managing director of Empteezy), Alan McLeish (managing director of QTS Group) and the Weir Charitable Trust founded by Craig and Christine Weir.
Participants in the Sleep in the Park aren’t able to buy tickets for the rough sleeping event, which features exclusive busking sets from the likes of Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Amy MacDonald and Frightened Rabbit. Instead, they pay an initial £50 fundraising amount and commit to raising at least another £50 more.
The £100,000 donation will pay the initial £50 fundraising amount for 2,000 young people across the country. All Scottish young people over 16 and in full time education are invited to claim their place. Social Bite hopes the event will raise a total of £4million which will be invested in solutions to try and end homelessness in Scotland in a five-year period.
Josh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of Social Bite, said: “I’m so grateful for the support from John, Bruce, Alan and The Weir Charitable Trust. We want 9,000 people to sleep out with us in December, and it’s great that we’re able to invite so many young people to take part. They are the future voices and leaders of our country, so having their support is immensely important.
“The generosity of these donors, and those already signed up, means that we are on track to hitting our main target of 9,000 people and £4million raised, and one step closer to making a huge difference to homelessness in Scotland.”
John Watson OBE, founder of the Watson Foundation, said: “The Watson Foundation is delighted to be involved in this outstanding initiative under the inspirational leadership of Josh. The scourge of homelessness must be tackled as a priority for Scots everywhere. The Watson Foundation will continue to do everything it can to eradicate homelessness and give people a proper home and fresh start in life.”
Commenting on his sponsorship for Sleep in the Park, managing director at Emteezy, Bruce Wishart, said: “This is a great opportunity to involve young people in tackling homelessness which continues to be widespread across the country. More than 34,000 homeless applications were made to local authorities last year, and Sleep in the Park will give pupils a first-hand experience on the freezing conditions thousands of people are subject to every winter.”
Alan McLeish, managing director of QTS Group, said: “QTS Group is delighted to be able to provide this funding for the Sleep in the Park schools’ initiative. This not only gives us the opportunity to continue to back Social Bite, but also support some of the young people of Ayrshire and beyond. QTS Group is passionate about developing our business leaders of the future and this is an opportunity for these youngsters to develop their understanding of philanthropy and how they can work together to help address some of our key social issues.”
Lorraine Tait, trust manager of The Weir Charitable Trust, continued: “Josh’s drive and commitment to see an end to homelessness in Scotland is an inspiration to us all, and we are delighted to offer our support. Sleep in the Park is another wonderfully ambitious project and we hope that our donation will provide the means for many more young people to get involved.”
The 2,000 donated places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. To claim a space, applicants should email firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on October 31 with their name, age, place of study and contact details. Teachers and staff from high schools and universities are also encouraged to take an allocation of places for their students.
The event will take place on the 9 December in Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Gardens and will feature a spectacular live concert with performances from Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Amy Macdonald and Frightened Rabbit.
Members of the public can join Sleep in the Park by paying an initial £50 sign-up fee and committing to fundraising at least £100. Businesses can sponsor the event by signing up a team of five with a minimum fundraising commitment of £3,000.
To find out more and to sign up, visit www.sleepinthepark.co.uk.