A team from A&DS is joining 9,000 others in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, on the 9th of December for the World’s largest ever sleepout to raise funds and awareness about homelessness. In the run up to the event we asked those taking part to outline what motivated them to sign up. Here Jim MacDonald, A&DS Chief Executive, tells his story:
Homelessness is something I’ve never experienced so the idea of having nowhere to live is, quite frankly, terrifying. I have no idea what it feels like to be at the mercy of the elements, others’ charity or the capacity of a local hostel, so I’ve never faced the prospect of not knowing where I’m going to stay. Others are not so lucky.
David was a soldier, but by the time I met him he had fetched up back in Edinburgh where he had grown up. He was living on the streets and trying to find enough to money each day to get a hostel bed for the night. Most days he didn’t, so most nights he slept in doorways in and around Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and for a while in Bakehouse Close, near our offices. What bothered him most though was being lonely. He hated the cold and the wet and the begging and the other stuff but what he hated most was being no-one, being invisible. David is one of almost 30,000 homeless people in Scotland.
Decent Housing as a Public Good
There is simply no excuse, no justification, no good reason why in a country as wealthy as ours, anyone has to go without a home. Thousands of homes lie empty, as do thousands more buildings that could provide housing and countless acres of land with permission to build houses on. Once upon a time we believed that providing decent housing for all was a public good, something to be as proud of as our National Health Service or our education system. We need to believe again.
So because I am angry and because I wish I could help every other David in the country I am sleeping out for just one night this year to raise awareness and some money in the hope that I can help change things. And yes, I am terrified.
Please consider supporting Jim and the A&DS team in reaching their fundraising target. You can make a donation here.