Sleep out in the park with Emma and Sean!

Emma and Sean will be sleeping out for charity.
Emma and Sean will be sleeping out for charity.

Rigside woman Emma Coats and her partner are sleeping out – and they are inviting others to join them.

The tongue-in-cheek invitation is to help spread awareness of the Social Bite sleep in the park taking place in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens on December 9 this year in a bid to tackle homelessness.

Social Bite is looking for 9,000 people to take part and estimates that it could raise £4m, and create an “unstoppable momentum” to solve homelessness.

It already has more than 2,500 people signed up and in excess of £900,000 has been raised.

Emma, 38 and a housing officer, and her partner Sean Brady, 43, of Whitburn, West Lothian, are among those signed up to spend a cold winter’s night sleeping outdoors.

“Homelessness frustrates me,” said Emma. “It frustrates me because there is legislation and policy in Scotland designed to alleviate and hopefully eliminate homelessness, but still it exists, and it exists due to several reasons, the major one being that there is nowhere for them to go.”

Emma told of a recent documentary showing a private firm setting up hostels for homeless people and charging hundreds of pounds per week for appalling conditions.

“If supported accommodation is to be provided, it must be regulated,” she said. “There should be support plans in place for each resident to deal with their personal issues, whether they be drug or alcohol abuse or mental health issues, and to move on to permanent accommodation and be able to sustain this.

“This is why we are supporting Social Bite in their goals to eradicate homelessness in Scotland within a five-year period.

“They plan to build a supportive living environment where people have accommodation while being given support and the opportunity to gain life skills to get them back on track.

There is still time to sign up to sleep out, or you can help Emma and Sean raise funds at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/emma-sean