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Sleep out makes big impact

University students and staff slept out on a freezing December night and raised over £50,000 to house homeless people in Edinburgh.

University staff at Sleep in the Park
University staff at Sleep in the Park

Over 9,000 people slept out in Princes Street Gardens in freezing conditions, with celebrities providing entertainment at the event, including music, comedy and a bedtime story.

Overnight event

Sleep in the Park, which took place on Saturday 9 December, featured performances by former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher and Scottish artists Deacon Blue, Frightened Rabbit and Amy MacDonald. It was hosted by comedian Rob Brydon.

Live Aid organiser Sir Bob Geldof joined the thousands sleeping out, and Monty Python actor John Cleese read those attending a bedtime story.

New homes

Working with the City of Edinburgh Council, Social Bite aims to create a ‘village’ in the Granton area of the city by constructing purpose-built houses where up to 20 individuals at a time can be supported to rebuild their lives. 

By participating in the Sleep in the Park initiative, staff and students raised more than £50,000 and the University is now able to sponsor one of these houses.

Social enterprise

Social Bite was co-founded by Edinburgh alumnus Josh Littlejohn, who graduated in 2009 with a degree with Economics and Politics. At its five sandwich shops across Scotland, Social Bite customers are asked to pay-it-forward and contribute to providing food for homeless people.  All  profits are given to good causes and homeless people are offered training to work in the social enterprise. 

Earlier this year, the University awarded Littlejohn an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science in Social Science for his work with Social Bite.