Young people in Aberdeen are being urged to think about where they sleep as part of a new charity campaign by Aberdeen Cyrenians challenging the stigma and understanding of homelessness.
The organisation’s annual Sleep Out event is a vital part of their calendar, encouraging people to experience homelessness for a night to raise awareness and funding for key services.
To keep people safe during covid, the event is this year being re-launched as The Big SleepIN encouraging people to host their own version mini Sleep Outs on October 10 to highlight World Homeless Day.
Resources to help plan the events and support learning are being distributed to schools across the region, designed to enable children to learn about the right to a safe place to sleep and sensitively discuss topics on poverty and inclusion.
Community groups and businesses are also being encouraged to participate and a number of companies have already signed up including Morrisons in Inverurie and WM Gilchrist in Aberdeen.
Emma Bellu, fundraising manager said: “The annual Sleep Out is a well recognised event in Aberdeen and plays an important part in supporting people experiencing incredibly difficult and overwhelming circumstances. With so many needing our help this year, we were determined to keep the spirit of the event alive, even if we had to make changes because of covid.
"There are lots of different ways people can get involved in the Big SleepIN: from holding a mini sleep-out in their garden or creating a makeshift indoor den to sleep in for the night or doing a sponsored sleep-walk in their PJs.
"We’d be delighted to support people wanting to take part. An information pack can be downloaded from our website www.weareac.org or people can call us on 0300 303 0903 to sign up.”
Mike Burns, chief executive said: "Having a home and a safe place to sleep is the best platform for recovery when someone is experiencing multiple challenges. Unfortunately, many vulnerable people experience homelessness and crisis in their lives. Aberdeen Cyrenians offers a lifeline of support to help people rebuild positive and meaningful lives.
"We understand that it can be difficult to talk to young people about homelessness as the issue is complex and can be very sensitive – The Big SleepIN resources equip educators with the knowledge to make discussing homelessness, poverty and safety easier, as well as encourage young people to take some practical action to change these issues in our city."