Newcastle council has had to back out of the international event World’s Big Sleep Out due to less than 100 taking interest.
Around 2000 participants were expected to sign up to the fundraiser, which was to be held in Exhibition Park, on 7 December, where the campaigners would sleep outdoors to support the homeless and raise funds.
Newcastle would have seen the likes of Hairy Biker chef Si King and Streetwise Opera entertaining and joining those taking part, however Civic Centre chiefs have sadly had to make the decision to cancel the event due to the risk of losing money for such small numbers.
A spokesperson for the City Council said that, “Without the assurances on participation we needed it’s been decided to cancel it now rather than hold a low-attendance event.”
Other cities around the world such as London and New York are also set to be holding the event, each having special guests including Ellie Goulding in Los Angeles singing a bedtime lullaby and Ruth Jones reading a bedtime story to Cardiff.
The Big Sleepout, founded by Josh Littlejohn MBE, has previously been held in Edinburgh as ‘Sleep in the Park’, and has raised over £10m within just two years for homelessness in Scotland. For Newcastle, the partnership of Big Sleepout and Street Zero that began last year would have seen funds divided between the charities they support with the goal to end rough sleeping by 2022 within the northern city.
To compensate for the cancelled participation, a charity concert has been organised to take place in Newcastle with Lighthouse Family, a British duo who formed locally in the late 1990s. The pair have had hits with songs such as ‘High’, and they delivered their first studio album ‘Blue Sky in Your Head’ this summer just short of two decades since their last release.
The Council announced the new plans on their Facebook page, showing they are keeping high spirits, stating, “While we’re disappointed not to be involved, it is a huge pleasure to announce Lighthouse Family will be playing a charity concert in the city in 2020!”
Those who had planned to take part and support the event were also acknowledged in a statement, saying: “Our thanks go to everyone involved in taking this as far as it’s got and everybody who has shown their support. We would encourage people to support sleep out events elsewhere this winter and support homelessness charities where possible.”
“However, we’re delighted that we’ve still been able to put on an event where the sole beneficiaries will be those who struggle with homelessness in our city…”
Manager of Lighthouse Family, Keith Armstrong, said that “As a band that was created in Newcastle, Lighthouse family is 100 percent behind supporting Geordies who most need help, and homelessness is something we can work together to stamp out.”
The council will be refunding those who signed up to participate and despite the plans falling through, has encouraged individuals to host their own sleep out’s in their own private spaces to show their support and contribute to the fundraiser.
To find out more about the event go to bigsleepout.com.
Last modified: 22nd January 2020