If you follow our favourite social enterprise, Green Aspirations Scotland CIC, you'll have heard all about the Big Sleep Out in the Woods they hosted last Saturday night. The Sleep Out was in aid of Social Bite, another amazing Scottish-based social enterprise who are working to end homelessness. We were delighted to be able to support the organisation of the Green Aspirations event, and we thought we'd share our reflections after a night braving the Scottish weather.
What is the Big Sleep Out?
Social Bite, a social enterprise established in 2012 in Edinburgh, started the annual night of sleeping outside back in 2017. For the first two years, this was held in cities across Scotland but, in 2019, the remit widened. Not only did cities around the world host a sleep out event, there was also the opportunity to Host Your Own. This year, an estimated 60,000 spent the night of December 7th under the stars.
Why host your own?
In a creative twist, private Host Your Own Sleep Outs were encouraged this year, to add to the opportunities available to get involved. This meant that sleep outs could be held in a wide variety of locations - from back gardens to company grounds, and even in the woods!
What did Green Aspirations do?
We were delighted to help Green Aspirations to get prepared for the event, which took place at their woodland shelter. We contacted loads of local businesses and got an enormous amount of support - from food to see us through the night to raffle prizes and even some beer! We also helped promote the event on Green Aspirations's social media platforms to help to drum up a crowd.
What was it like?
In short, it was wet and windy! So wet and windy that the site almost flooded! But, we had plenty of food to go around, two big campfires and loads of good chat. We even had a quiz, and a 50th birthday to celebrate! Amidst all the fun, we kept returning to the main purpose of the event - to stand in solidarity with the estimated 1,000,000 homeless people around the world and to raise funds to help end global homelessness. And while it was only for one night, it really did highlight what some people go through every day. We talked a lot about the importance of ending the austerity measures that have forced so many in the UK into poverty, and the relevance of local actions aimed at tackling local problems.
Would you do it again?
Without a doubt! It was a very different experience this year to last, when we slept out in a park in Dundee. I'm not sure 'enjoyed' is the right word, but it was great to be able to talk to people on a more personal level about the issues. I ended up sleeping under the shelter - it was far too wet to venture beyond the roof - but even that gave me an insight into how uncomfortable it is, how damp it can be, and what little sleep you can actually get on a night like that. Raising awareness seems almost as important as raising funds. The more people who know about how rife homelessness is - not just rough sleeping, but insecure housing as well - the more we're likely to be able to influence the systems that cause it.
How can I help?
Firstly, be aware of the homeless people you pass on a day-to-day basis. Pay it forward. Match what you spend on coffee and save it to buy someone on the street a meal or to donate to homeless charity. Address local issues by donating to food banks, calls for winter clothes or helping with other local problems. And you can still donate to our fundraising page, open until December 24th.