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London businesses get behind World’s Big Sleep Out campaign
16 October 2019
The World’s Big Sleep Out is a one-off international campaign that aims to make a huge global impact. On 7th December, 50,000 business leaders, change-makers and members of the public around the world will sleep out in unison to create the world’s largest display of solidarity with — and in support of — those experiencing homelessness and displacement.
Sleep Outs will be happening on the same night in back gardens and iconic venues across the world, such as Trafalgar Square and The Kia Oval, in 50 cities including Edinburgh, Cardiff, Dublin and Belfast and from New York to New Delhi and Madrid to Manila with live performances from world-famous musicians and bedtime stories from the likes of Will Smith and Dame Helen Mirren.
Some of London’s most senior leaders and biggest employers have signed up and here Simon Davis, President of the Law Society of England and Wales, talks about why:
“When I first heard of this extraordinary initiative, I was hesitant. There are many and different reasons why people are living on the streets. Our natural starting point as a compassionate society may often be that this is sad and that their lives should be made more bearable by being given cash and food. But that kindness can simply sustain homelessness, keep people on the margins of life, and do nothing to address the causes of homelessness or to help people get off the street and back into the mainstream of society.
However, once I heard more, I appreciated that the focus of the World’s Big Sleep Out is not on sustaining homelessness but on treating each person as an individual and working out how to find them accommodation which they will want to live in and stay in and be able then to avoid some of the problems which come with having no permanent address-including the inability to find a job or have a bank account.
This kind of tailored approach has to involve a support network of those trained in dealing with mental illness, substance and alcohol abuse and in supporting the more vulnerable in society develop skills which help them swim back into the mainstream of life.
This will need money — LOTS of it — to find suitable accommodation, adapt it, hire the specialist back up and develop the long-term infrastructure needed to keep people from going back onto the street.
Homelessness must not become an acceptable part of life across the world. And we cannot expect governments to provide all the answers. We must all, including the homeless, work together to make homelessness the rare exception, not part of everyday life.