Newcastle joins World’s Big Sleepout in bid to fight homelessness
Thousands of fundraisers will spend a night open to the elements this winter as Newcastle joins forces with major cities across the world in a global bid to fight homelessness.
The city will stand alongside New York, New Delhi, Barcelona and other cities on December 7 in the event organised by Josh Littlejohn MBE, the co-founder of the charity Social Bite.
50,000 people are expected to take part, with funds from the World’s Big Sleepout being split 50/50 between a Newcastle-based charity and the charities supported by Big Sleepout which help some of the 68.5 million people who are displaced globally.
In Newcastle, the money will be used to support the work of the Street Zero partnership which launched late last year.
Street Zero was set up with the mission to make it everyone’s business to end rough sleeping in Newcastle for good by 2022.
Partners from public, private and third sector organisations, including Changing Lives, Crisis and Newcastle City Council, have worked together to develop a city-wide plan that aims to help rough sleepers transition into independent living through compassion and understanding their individual needs.
Bob Eldridge MBE, chair of the Street Zero partnership, and Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for housing Cllr Linda Hobson, joined other city stakeholders at Exhibition Park on Tuesday, the site where Newcastle’s Big Sleepout will take place on December 7.
Mr Eldridge said: “Street Zero has brought together experts from the full spectrum of support services across the city to collaborate and effectively help those sleeping rough. It is clear that the majority of the time, rough sleeping is not a choice, but a result of many accumulating pressures that can affect anyone at any stage of their life.
“By treating people with dignity, responding to their individual needs and providing them with a long term safe and stable place to live, Newcastle can take action to help people transition from life on the streets and sustain this change.
“The World’s Big Sleep Out in Exhibition Park will be a fantastic event bringing the city together. It is a great opportunity for people in Newcastle to make a direct contribution to ending rough sleeping here in our city.”
Cllr Linda Hobson said: “Homelessness is an issue we all have a responsibility for as even one person without a place to call home is too many.
“In Newcastle, a lot of incredible work already takes place to support people, but we can always do more. The World’s Big Sleepout will highlight the problem on a global scale and will allow us to help people across the world as well as those in our city.
“When we gather for the night at Exhibition Park, we do so knowing the following night we’ll be able to keep warm and dry in our homes, but for some that isn’t a possibility. Let’s come together to help change that.”
Josh Littlejohn MBE, Social Bite and WBSO Founder, said “I am blown away by the response to The World’s Big Sleep Out so far and incredibly excited to have 50 cities all over the World taking part.
“It doesn’t matter if you are taking part in Times Square New York or in your back garden with your family, by sleeping out for one night on 7th December we can simultaneously express our compassion for homeless people who have no other choice and raise life-saving funds to make a difference.
“We can also send a message to the world’s political leaders that urgent action is required to address the human suffering that we each witness on our streets every day.”
James Cross, Chief Executive of Newcastle Parks and Allotments Trust, said: “For most people our city’s parks are a place to play, come together with friends and family, and celebrate nature. For others, it can be place to rest their head for the night.
“The World’s Big Sleep Out is about raising awareness and starting a conversation about homelessness. I’m proud this event is taking place inside Exhibition Park and I hope thousands of people will join in to show their support for ending homelessness and to raise valuable funds that will help people enjoy a life off the streets.”
To register for Newcastle’s Big Sleepout, visit https://www.bigsleepout.com/join-a-sleep-out/newcastle.