NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On Saturday, December 7th, the world will unite to help fight homelessness with what is thought to be the largest charitable fundraising campaign in a generation. With an aim of raising $50 million, The World’s Big Sleep Out, spearheaded by Josh Littlejohn MBE, founder of social enterprise Social Bite, will take place in 50 cities around the world.
Research by the Institute of Global Homelessness shows that figures have reached a new level with more than a 100 million people homeless and displaced around the world. In New York City alone, more people are now homeless than at any time since the Great Depression, and the number of homeless people and refugees in cities around the world continues to hit record highs with each passing year.
Today, each of the city locations are confirmed along with a host of celebrities, musicians, Olympians, acting royalty, top broadcasters and influential politicians who will take part in sleep out events on the night, as part of an overall target number of 50,000 people, creating the world’s largest display of solidarity to those experiencing homelessness and displacement.
In New York City, the sleep out will take place in Times Square where actor Will Smith will perform a “bedtime story” to participants braving the cold. 100% of the funds raised from the NYC event will go towards registered charities helping homeless and displaced people. Local NY charity beneficiaries include The Robin Hood Foundation, Breaking Ground, The Ali Forney Center, and The Coalition for the Homeless. CEO & President Mitchell Modell and Modell's Sporting Goods have donated 1600 sleeping bags for all Times Square participants to use that night, which will then be subsequently distributed through local charity partners to those in need.
Alongside Will Smith, Dame Helen Mirren will participate by telling a bedtime story in Trafalgar Square (London). A diverse group of politicians, entertainers and business men and women are participating in The World’s Big Sleep Out including: Caryl Stern, President & CEO UNICEF USA; Mindy Grossman, CEO WW (Weight Watchers); John O’Farrell, General Partner, Andreesen Horowitz; Mitchell Modell, CEO Modell's Sporting Goods; six-times Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy, Sharon Thorne, Global Chair of Deloitte; Peter Sims, Founder of BLK SHP, among many more.
There will also be stripped back, live acoustic music performances throughout the world with the line-up announced over the coming months.
The board of The World’s Big Sleep Out Trust is being chaired by world-renowned homelessness expert Dame Louise Casey DBE.
Cities and towns confirmed to be taking part include: London (Trafalgar Square), New York (Times Square), Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, New Delhi, Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast, Santiago, Madrid, Rijeka, Kharkiv, Brisbane, Manila, Cebu, Amsterdam, Patna, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Chennai, Coimbatore, Mumbai, Hong Kong, San Jose (Costa Rica), Malibu, Cardiff, Newcastle, Newport, Brighton, Manchester, and Singapore.
People are urged to register for an official event or sign up to “Host Your Own” sleep out in their backyard, office car park, high school or university campus by visiting www.bigsleepout.com.
It is hoped that an estimated 50,000 participants will collectively achieve a fundraising target of $50 Million, which will be invested to sustainably help around 1,000,000 homeless and displaced people around the world. As well as benefitting local charities, international partners for the campaign include UNICEF USA, Malala Fund, Social Bite, and The Institute of Global Homelessness.
In addition to private individuals, the campaign has received the backing of some of the world’s largest companies and charitable foundations. The following organizations have signed up to participate in The World’s Big Sleep Out: Airbnb, WW (Weight Watchers), Bloomberg, and many more. Oak Foundation have pledged $1M to the campaign. Donald B. Marron, Chairman and Founder, Lightyear Capital has also pledged a significant donation.
This global event follows the success of Social Bite’s 2017 and 2018 Sleep in the Park events, which were held in Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow and Aberdeen. The mass fundraiser saw 18,000 people give up their beds, raising a total of over $10 million. A new charity, called The World’s Big Sleep Out Trust has been established to govern the funds raised, while funds raised in the USA will be managed by UNICEF USA.
Josh Littlejohn MBE, Social Bite and WBSO Founder, said “I am blown away by the response to The World’s Big Sleep Out so far and incredibly excited to have 50 cities all over the world taking part. It doesn’t matter if you are taking part in Times Square or in your back garden with your family, by sleeping out for one night on December 7th we can simultaneously express our compassion for homeless people who have no other choice and raise life-saving funds to make a difference. We can also send a message to the World’s political leaders that urgent action is required to address the human suffering that we each witness on our streets every day.”
Caryl Stern, President and CEO of UNICEF USA, said: “As an organization that was founded more than 70 years ago to support displacement in all forms, here at UNICEF USA, we are elated to join the World’s Big Sleep Out to raise awareness and critical funding this December in Times Square. “The World’s Big Sleep Out provides an interactive opportunity to engage people all over the globe and together, we can help to create lifesaving, long-lasting impact for displaced children and families everywhere.”
Dame Helen Mirren said: "Homelessness on our streets is a real problem in the UK and for many nations throughout the world. This coupled with an unprecedented number of refugees being displaced internationally makes this a really important time to focus attention on the issue of global homelessness. The World's Big Sleep Out campaign will play an important role in shining the political spotlight on the issues of homelessness and displacement whilst raising considerable funds to make a big difference. I am pleased to have this opportunity to make a contribution by performing a "bed-time" story for participants in London, which will also be screened at sleepout events happening throughout the world. I'd like to encourage anyone who cares about this issue to get involved by sleeping out, in solidarity with those who have no choice, on December 7th."
Dame Louise Casey DBE CB, Chair of the World’s Big Sleep Out Trust said: “Homelessness is an urgent, deadly issue that affects people in all nations, but it is an issue that can be solved. The World’s Big Sleep Out is an act of compassion for our fellow citizens; a way to raise much needed funds and a campaign for lasting change where everyone has a place to call home.”
Notes To Editors:
Social Bite started as a sandwich shop on Rose Street in Edinburgh in August 2012 and has now grown to a major driving force in tackling homelessness in Scotland. One quarter of Social Bite’s staff are homeless, and the charity has received visits from Hollywood superstars Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney.
Social Bite’s 2017 and 2018 Sleep in Park events in Scotland raised almost $10 million and saw more than 18,000 people sleeping out. Video from the events can be seen at www.vimeo.com/246949595
Social Bite is the largest distributor of free fresh food to homeless in the UK, giving out over 100,000 items of food and hot drinks per year.
With funds raised from Sleep in the Park events, The Social Bite Village was built in May 2018 with 20 people now housed in the bespoke accommodation. The charity also launched a nationwide program to bring 830 rough sleepers of the streets into their own accommodation with support. www.social-bite.co.uk
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.
UNICEF USA supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, it is working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes, and every child has a safe and healthy childhood.
The Institute of Global Homelessness
The Institute of Global Homelessness (IGH) supports an emerging global movement to end street homelessness. Based in Chicago at DePaul University, IGH partners with key global cities to develop local leaders, set metrics, scale successes, and drive advocacy – all to accelerate progress in reducing and ending homelessness. IGH envisions a world where everyone has a place to call home – a home that offers security, safety, autonomy, and opportunity. Learn more about IGH’s work at www.ighomelessness.org.
Malala Fund is working for a world where all girls can learn and lead. Malala Fund advocates for resources and policy changes needed to give all girls a secondary education, invests in local education leaders and amplifies the voices of girls fighting for change. Learn more at malala.org.