Dundee-born Holywood star Brian Cox has backed a global event to tackle homelessness after warning the sight of people sleeping rough on city streets is now “taken for granted”.
Around 50,000 people are expected to take part in the World’s Big Sleep Out on December 7 in up to 60 cities as organisers attempt to raise awareness and more than £38 million to help the world’s homeless.
Council bosses in Dundee hoped to play a “pivotal role” in the landmark event and held a number of meetings with organisers Social Bite but were unable to reach an agreement to host one of its mass sleep-outs.
Mr Cox is expected to return to Scotland, for the first time since shooting scenes for the hit HBO series Succession in Dundee earlier this year, to take part in the Edinburgh event.
Appearing with Social Bite co-founder Josh Littlejohn on television programme Good Day New York, Mr Cox recalled his horror when he first saw people sleeping rough on the streets when he moved to London to become an actor in the early 80s.
He said: “Homelessness has really been hovering.
“I remember away back when I was a young actor and was working in Waterloo at the National Theatre in London.
“I saw right at the beginning of the (Margaret) Thatcher administration that suddenly there were these people sleeping.
“That had never been the case in London in all my time there, from when I was a student. I remember seeing it – it was a phenomenon.
“It was known as ‘cardboard city’. There was eventually about 300 people there. It happened very quickly. There’s now more homeless in New York than in the Great Depression.
“We now take homelessness for granted. We really shouldn’t because it is desperate and really bad.”
Global stars have been recruited to take part in World Big Sleep Out events such as Will Smith, Dame Helen Mirren, Ellie Goulding, Charlotte Church and Travis.
Dundee was not among the locations signed up to host an event when it launched in May but council leader John Alexander asked officers to engage with organisers to see how the city can help.
It is understood a number of meetings took place but no agreement could be reached.
Mr Alexander hailed Social Bite as an “incredible charity” and said he would “look forward to continuing our conversations at to how Dundee can play a bigger part in the development of their business,”.
He said: “After being elected, I soon assumed responsibility for housing and I saw the huge impact that housing, or the lack of housing, has on an individual and families.
“To that end, I’ve been delighted to meet with senior members of the Social Bite team to discuss how we grow that relationship in the future.
“I’m keen to see how we can not only support the charitable aims and the shared vision but also build upon the success of Social Bite’s other ventures such as the stores/ catering business.”