A major event aimed at helping eradicate homelessness is coming to Dundee – with people being asked to spend a cold, winter’s night in the city’s Slessor Gardens.
And the man behind Sleep in the Park says homelessness can be wiped out in and around Dundee with 100 properties offered up to help get people off the streets.
Josh Littlejohn MBE, the co-founder of social enterprise Social Bite, is bringing the charity’s sleepout to Dundee for the first time.
The money raised as part of Sleep in the Park on December 8 in Dundee, and also in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen on the same night, will go towards the group’s Housing First initiative, aimed at taking as many people as possible off the streets and into their own homes.
Crowds at the Dundee event – which it is hoped will attract 2,000 people – will be entertained by Kyle Falconer and Withered Hand with more acts to be announced.
The night will also feature performances from KT Tunstall and Amy MacDonald, who will play at all four events.
Josh told The Courier: “Last year, 8,000 people took part in the world’s largest sleep out in Edinburgh, and raised an incredible £4 million in the process.
“This year we’re doing something that’s never been done before – holding a simultaneous multi-city sleep out in four of Scotland’s major cities, and we’re looking for the people of Dundee to get behind the cause and join our movement to eradicate homelessness.
“The money raised at Sleep in the Park 2018 will be put towards rapidly rehousing rough sleepers across Scotland as part of our Housing First scheme, providing our most vulnerable members of society with support.
“We will invest the funds so that homeless people in each of our four cities are given the help they need, and we’re so grateful to Dundee City Council for pledging 100 homes as part of our Housing First initiative.”
Josh said the mission is to eradicate homelessness and explained that the people involved in the programme will be “known to charities on the ground”.
He added: “They will be people who have been passed over by the system, who landlords may not have otherwise given a flat to. We’re doing it using a ‘by name’ list, working with frontline agencies, so they know the people who have been trapped in this cycle of homelessness.
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“They’re usually staying in hostels or on the street, and they’re known to charities like the ones that we’re working with so they can evaluate the needs of people, and see who is most in need of our help.
“Over the course of 18 months, we want to help 120 people.”
Housing First, which is based on a Finnish initiative, has already launched in Scotland, with £3 million of funding from Social Bite and the Scottish Government contributing a further £6.5m as Nicola Sturgeon announced this week.
Private landlords, the local authority and housing associations in Dundee have already pledged 100 properties for the programme, which will be used to house people who would otherwise be homeless.
The project would also include support for complex needs that many homeless people may suffer with – such as drug or alcohol addiction and mental health issues.
Josh hopes that Housing First will shift people away from “transient accommodation” such as hostels, and into “more mainstream accommodation”.
Social Bite will offer up a portion of the cash that is made through the sleep-out – hoped to be as much as £4m across the country – to charities in each city.
Sleep in the Park is due to take place on December 8 in Dundee’s Slessor Gardens.
Individuals, aged 16 and over, and groups are welcome to take part, with a minimum £100 fundraising commitment for a single person.
Groups, which should be formed of more than five people, are tasked with raising at least £3,000.
The closing date for entries is December 2, and people can sign up by visiting: sleepinthepark.co.uk
Social Bite will offer up a portion of the cash that is made through the sleep-out – hoped to be as much as £4m across the country – to charities in each of the four cities taking part – Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
Across Scotland, 830 properties have already been pledged to the project, with more than 50 already being used in Glasgow.
Housing First Dundee is led by Transform Community Development with a consortium comprised of Salvation Army Dundee, Dundee Survival Group (DSG) and Addaction.
Each one specialises in dealing with homelessness or mental health issues and will act as a point of contact for the programme in Dundee, identifying those most in need.
Dundee is one of four more cities chosen to benefit from the programme, as well as Edinburgh, Stirling and Aberdeen.
The first tenants in these four cities will be moved in during this month, with more people added to the programme every month.
The original idea came from the Y-Foundation in Finland. Started in 1985 , the foundation seeks out social housing for people in need, and it is now the fourth biggest landlord in Finland – with 16,650 apartments owned in 50 communities across the country.