Thousands of pupils sign up to sleep out

Event to raise awareness about homelessness is expected to involve more than 4,000 young people

Emma Seith

Thousands of pupils sign up to sleep under the stars

More than 50 schools are set to take part in an event that is encouraging young people to spend one night sleeping under the stars in a bid to raise awareness of homelessness

With just over 24 hours left for schools and youth organisations to sign up for the Wee Sleep Out, which will take place in locations all over Scotland next month, the organisers – Scottish social enterprise Social Bite – have revealed that 54 schools will be sleeping out. Roughly a third of the schools signed up are primaries.  

In total, it expects more than 4,400 young people to take part in the event, which is a spin-off of Sleep in the Park.

Sleep in the Park took place in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens last year for the first time and raised £4 million. This year the event is being held in four cities in December.

One criticism of last year’s event, however, was that under-16s could not take part, and this year – in the Year of Young People – that has been remedied by creating an event especially for schools, which included the opportunity for schools to opt into workshops about homelessness.

Homelessness affects families

The biggest misconception among young people about homelessness is that it is just about people sleeping rough or begging on the street, said the national programme manager for the Wee Sleep Out, Rachael Craig. They often did not realise that children are also affected by homelessness, she said. For instance children who grow up in care have almost a 50 per cent chance of becoming homeless.

Last year Tes revealed that a growing number of teachers were on the verge of homelessness due to increasingly unaffordable housing in some areas.

Ms Craig added: “There’s this assumption that homeless people are just lazy or don’t have a job. What we try to get across is that it’s a much bigger problem that affects a lot of people, including mums and dads and kids. It’s just about getting them to be a bit more open-minded and realise this issue is really complex and needs attention.”

According to Social Bite, last year 34,972 homeless applications were made to local authorities across Scotland. Just under a third of applications that were assessed as homeless were households with dependent children.

In that same year, there were 6,581 dependent children living in temporary accommodation.

This year there is no minimum fundraising target in order to participate in Wee Sleep Out, but the organisers are hoping that participants will be able to raise £30 each.

Registrations for the Wee Sleep Out – which is due to take place on or around Friday 9 November – close tomorrow (Thursday) at midnight.

Social Bite does not recommend that under-12s stay outdoors for the whole night.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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