Congregations Urged To Take Part In The World’s Biggest Sleepout

CONGREGATIONS have been invited to take part in a sleep out in December with the aim of ending homelessness by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning has endorsed the ‘Sleep in the Park’ organised by the social enterprise Social Bite, which is committed to working with homeless people in a long-term plan to eradicate homelessness. In a letter to congregations, he endorses the Sleep in the Park, which will take place in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh on Saturday December 9 and urges congregations to take part. Dr Browning writes: “At Christmas time there are many legitimate calls upon our time and our generosity. There are so many worthwhile charities and causes to support. But there is for Christians something compelling about the reality of homelessness that lies near the heart of the Christmas story. The homeless Christchild, the refugee Holy Family.” Appealing to congregations to take part, he adds: “You might not be able to take part yourself, a cold winter night in a park in December won’t be possible for everyone.

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But you might know someone in your Church or workplace, a child or grandchild, a student friend or someone in a uniformed organisation, school, or a company that you work for who might be able to get involved individually or as a group. The challenge is for each individual to raise a minimum of £100 towards the cause. 2,000 people have already signed up. There’s still some way to reach 9,000 people.” Dr Browning said he was praying for 1,000 people connected to the Church of Scotland to sign up to take part. The Very Rev Albert Bogle is also supporting the event and has plans to establish a tented cathedral for the evening (see page 19).

Social Bite is a social enterprise established by founders Josh Littlejohn MBE and Alice Thompson on a not for profit basis. The enterprise has five sandwich shops and a restuarant which employs homeless people and ploughs profits into tackling the causes of homelessness. It is involved in plans to create a purpose built village to support and rehabilitate homeless people and its work has attracted high-profile support. The enterprise seeks to raise funds and get to the root issues through a five-year plan to provide homeless people with housing, rehabilitations, jobs and the support they need to get back on their feet. A number of celebraties have pledged to support the sleepout, including John Cleese, Deacon Blue, Rob Brydon, Sir Bob Geldoff, Liam Gallagher and Amy Macdonald who will be present on the night. Life and Work’s Editor, Lynne McNeil, is among those who have already signed up to be a part of a congregational team from Dunfermline Abbey. She said: “Working in Edinburgh, you cannot ignore the issue of homelessness and rough sleepers on our streets every single day. This sleepout offers congregations a life-changing opportunity to experience for themselves the conditions faced by those forced to sleep out in the freezing cold every single night. By taking part for just one night you can help change lives forever. If every congregation could send even one person to take part, the Moderator’s target would be exceeded.”

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