Emma Short and Emma Park joined 9,000 other participants on December 9th for Sleep in the Park, the world’s largest ever sleep-out event.   Organized by Edinburgh Homelessness Charity, Social Bite, they slept in the sub-zero 25317224_10214322188265571_180551377_otemperatures under the stars in Edinburgh’s city centre with the aim of raising £4m to eradicate homelessness in Scotland.

Emma Short and Emma Park were excited to take part by sleeping out in the cold overnight along with the other participants to gain some insight into what type of conditions homeless people experience every day. They planned on taking two sleeping bags and two camping chairs.  Emma Short thought she and Emma Park would drink hundreds of cups of tea between them in the effort to keep warm.

Sheena Macleod, an author and One Million Project Administrator, interviewed Emma Short about the event and their experiences.  Emma’s story about the night follows:

“The event was incredible. We started off in a very excited queue that went the entire length and around Princess Street in Edinburgh. Once in we got our yellow corporate bands which gave us access to some pretty cool sites, we found our patc25317277_10214322185505502_334669509_oh of grass where we left our chairs and sleeping bags. It was already minus 2 at 7pm so we knew we were gonna be freezing through the night. – It turned out to be the coldest night of the year, minus 7 at points.

25319624_10214322185025490_151981106_o (1)The concert itself was amazing. We heard from some homeless people who were so open about their stories. Josh Littlejohn, the Social Bite founder, gave a speech which made 8500 people cry and Bonnie Higgs a fifteen-year-old homeless girl sang an original song called ‘Coppers’.  She had a natural talent that will hopefully go very far.

The entertainment was brilliant. Deacon Blue slept in the park with us, and Amy McDonald and Liam Gallacher sang some of their own music. We were read a bedtime story by John Cleese. The queue for hot water was two hours long just to be told the water was all gone, so we wandered to our sleeping bags and got into our bright orange survival bags to try and warm down for the night.

We managed about two hours sleep. At one point I woke up thinking I was having a heart attack. I wasn’t, but it was the coldest25353237_10214322188025565_453277949_o I have ever felt. The atmosphere was pretty grim. You could hear everyone chatting about how cold they were, some couldn’t feel their toes, and some were so cold they went home.

I’m not sure what we were meant to be thinking when we drove home at 6am, but I’m sure the idea was that we thought about how we were going home to hot baths and showers, while homeless people have no escape from the cold. It really did affect both of us, we were quite emotional in the car.

I’m not sure I could do it again, but I’m going to try next year if they hold the same event.

At last count, we were told almost 3 million pounds had been raised.”

The One Million Project (OMP), a non-profit group, raises money and awareness for homelessness globally, were delighted to support Emma Short and Emma Park in their sleep-out to raise funds and awareness of homelessness in Scotland.

Emma Short (left) and Emma Park

As part of their attendance at Sleep In the Park, Emma Short and Emma Park are running a fundraiser. You can support them on –  https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=ac-balfield-road&pageUrl=2




Another Wonderful Christmas

by Sheena Macleod

Lights glittering, people passing,

Carrying shopping bags filled with Christmas dreams

Frost glistening on the sidewalk of life

I watch it all and wonder

Where these people have come from

I wonder where they are going

And I wonder, why not me?


Carols spilling from shops

Overflowing with all kinds of earthly and heavenly joys

Choirs singing about silent nights and mercies mild

I listen to it all and wonder

Whether peace on Earth is possible

I wonder if these words fill others with hope

And I wonder, why not me?


Strangers passing, throwing a coin

Or placing a hot cup of tea in my hand

Others hurrying by, blind to the rows of homeless

I look at them all and wonder

What they will be doing next year

I wonder if they’ll be filled with Christmas cheer

And I wonder, why not me?


3 thoughts on “Subzero Temps Bring A Harsh Reality to Homeless Plight at Sleep in the Park Event

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