Lack of firm support sees Newcastle pull out of World’s Big Sleep Out for homelessness charities

A charity sleep out in Newcastle intended to form part of a worldwide effort to raise funds for homelessness charities has been cancelled after failing to gain sufficient support.

Newcastle was planning to join dozens of cities around the world taking part in the World’s Big Sleep out on the night of 7 December, with supporters sleeping out in the city’s Exhibition Park.

However, despite receiving significant expressions of interest in the event, fewer than 100 people actually committed to the event and signed up. As such, according to the city council, the event would have proved too costly for the numbers involved and the decision was made to call it off.

“As a city we remain committed to ending rough sleeping through Street Zero along with our partners and we’re disappointed we won’t be involved in the World’s Big Sleep Out,” said a spokesperson for the city council.

“A lot of hard work had gone into generating interest and encouraging people to sign up and tackle a huge global issue but without the assurances on participation we needed it’s been decided to cancel it now rather than hold a low-attendance event.

“Our thanks go to everyone involved in taking this as far as it’s got and everybody who has shown their support. We would encourage people to support sleep out events elsewhere this winter and support homelessness charities where possible.”

The city had signed up to the World’s Big Sleep Out on the premise that participants would raise money for Street Zero, which was set up last year with the aim of ending rough sleeping in Newcastle by 2022.

Funds raised in Newcastle were set to be split equally between Street Zero and the event’s global charities, while special guests had also been lined up to appear on the night. These included Si King of The Hairy Bikers and Streetwise Opera.

Despite the setback, the city is pressing ahead undeterred with a new event announced for the New Year. Proceeds from the concert, featuring local band Lighthouse Family, will go to homelessness charities in the city.

Lighthouse Family rose to prominence in the 1990s with hits like ‘Ocean Drive’ and ‘High’ and released their first studio album in nearly two decades in the summer with ‘Blue Sky in Your Head’.

The council’s spokesperson added: “[W]e’re delighted that we’ve still been able to put on an event where the sole beneficiaries will be those who struggle with homelessness in our city and it’s a huge pleasure to have local group Lighthouse Family on board.”

Keith Armstrong, the band’s manager, said: “As a band that was created in Newcastle, Lighthouse family is 100% behind supporting Geordies who most need help, and homelessness is something we can work together to stamp out.”

More details of the homelessness concert featuring Lighthouse Family will be announced in the coming weeks, the council said.



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