Borders youngsters being urged to sleep under stars for charity

From left, Rachael Craig, Cody McManus, Kelso's Livvy Ferguson, Rory Brown, Josh Brown and Alice Thomson at this week's Wee Sleep Out launch.
From left, Rachael Craig, Cody McManus, Kelso's Livvy Ferguson, Rory Brown, Josh Brown and Alice Thomson at this week's Wee Sleep Out launch.

Young Borderers are being urged to brave the cold and spend a night under the stars to raise money for the homelessness charity Social Bite.

Teenager Livvy Ferguson is helping organise a follow-up to the charity’s Sleep in the Park fundraiser in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens last December to be held in her home town of Kelso and aimed at youngsters.

The late Scott Hutchison at last year's Sleep in the Park.

The late Scott Hutchison at last year's Sleep in the Park.

The 16-year-old and her family were among 8,000 people to take part in that event, and she was so inspired by the experience that she wants to recreate it on a smaller scale here in the Borders.

Part of a nationwide campaign called the Wee Sleep Out, it will be held at Springwood Park in Kelso on Friday, November 9, and it will cater for those too young to take part in this year’s second Sleep in the Park in Edinburgh – and also in Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow – under-16-year-olds not being allowed at the city events.

Kelso High School student Livvy is encouraging youngsters aged eight to 16 to dig out their sleeping bags, sign up sponsors and brave the cold to spend a night under the stars.

“This a great opportunity for young people to come together and play a part in helping to end homelessness in Scotland,” she said.

“Social Bite is an amazing charity, and last year my family and I took part in the Sleep in the Park, which was a humbling experience.

“I didn’t want my support to end there, so I got in touch with Social Bite’s co-founder, Alice Thomson, and suggested an event in the Borders.

“She thought it was a great idea, and now we just need people to join us and make the Borders’ first Wee Sleep Out a success.”

The Wee Sleep Out, launched this week in Edinburgh, is a national awareness-generating and fundraising campaign to get young people of Scotland involved in Social Bite’s mission to end homelessness.

Besides inviting youngsters to join in organised mass events such as that at Kelso, courtesy of the Border Union Agricultural Society, it is encouraging them – along with teachers, youth leaders, parents and guardians – to arrange their own in their back gardens, local parks or anywhere else suitable.

Such events don’t even have to involve roughing it and can instead be sleepovers hosted indoors in community centres, village halls or private houses, it says.

There will be no sign-up fee and no minimum fundraising target to make the initiative accessible to as many youngsters as possible.

Ms Thomson added: “The success of Sleep in the Park last year was overwhelming.

“To bring 8,000 people together and raise £4m in the process was incredible, and this year we want the young people of Scotland to join us.

“There’s been a real appetite from the young people of Scotland looking to get involved, and, like Livvy, a number got in touch after Sleep in the Park offering their support.

“We know that people sleeping rough is just one aspect of the wider homelessness issue, but sleeping out of your comfort zone goes some way to understanding some of the difficulties people affected by homelessness may experience.

“We’re proud to launch the Wee Sleep Out during Scotland’s Year of Young People and give the young people of Scotland a voice.

“We want people of all ages to get involved with Social Bite’s mission to eradicate homelessness, and we’re inviting young people across the country to get creative and take the lead by organising their own Wee Sleep Out.”

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Acts including singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald, ex-Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher and Selkirk folk-rock band Frightened Rabbit, fronted by the late Scott Hutchison, performed at last year’s Sleep in the Park, and Macdonald, accompanied by KT Tunstall, will be playing again this time round, on Saturday, December 8.