On Saturday night, over a thousand dedicated supporters braved the cold and rain to sleep out in Trafalgar Square as part of The World’s Big Sleep Out. Combined with 51 other cities across the globe, a collective sum of over 60,000 people took part in this display of solidarity and support of those experiencing homelessness and displacement.
So far, the global campaign has raised over $10 million which will go towards supporting some of the 100 million people without a home across the planet. Of this, nearly $1 million has been raised in London alone- half of this will be split between The Big Issue Foundation and four other charities which work in London and beyond to end homelessness; Thames Reach, Depaul UK, The Connection at St Martin’s and Homeless Link. The remaining half will fund international projects which aim to help some of the 70.1 million people displaced globally through war, natural disasters and extreme poverty. These projects will be funded through the Institute of Global Homelessness, UNICEF USA, Malala Fund and Social Bite.
Alongside fundraisers were Big Issue vendors Chris, Dave and Paul, who noted how friendly and engaged the audience were. “I’ve found the whole event very positive,” said London seller Chris. “People are actually happy to chat to vendors rather than being ignored. Every person has been happy to learn about The Big Issue and The Big Issue Foundation which has been great.” Dave added: “It’s amazing how many people turned up. I wasn’t expecting the response. Crazy but good crazy.”
On the night, the Big Issue Foundation were selling beanie hats to help keep sleepers warm and cosy, with the profits going towards our vital work supporting Big Issue vendors. Aside from being a practical choice of headwear, the beanies caught the eye of performer Rag’n’Bone Man. He was seen sporting his Big Issue Foundation beanie onstage while singing hits such as his Brit Awards 2018 British Single of the Year ‘Human’.
In response to the global success of the campaign, The World’s Big Sleep Out founder Josh Littlejohn said that he was “sincerely grateful to every single person who has given up their beds tonight to raise the funds and awareness needed to make an impact. I hope that what happened in this campaign demonstrates a clear mandate for political action to tackle the homelessness crisis to whoever ends up in government in a few days’ time.”
The Big Issue Foundation’s CEO Stephen Robertson also commented that “It’s been a great show of inclusive unity and sense of purpose towards working together to bring about an end to homelessness.”
The Big Issue Foundation’s Big Sleep Out will return in 2020. To join us in our fight against poverty and exclusion, you can register your interest in The Big Sleep Out here.
Images: Marcus Jamieson-Pond