Society

Chennaiites to join The World’s Big Sleep Out to raise funds for the homeless

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Chennaiites will be joining people around the globe for The World’s Big Sleep Out, spending one whole night out in the open to raise $50 million for the homeless

It is monsoon in Chennai. It is wet, damp and everything seems to be tinged in different shades of grey. As you head out of your house, you see a homeless family huddling under a temporary shelter. For a moment, your heart goes out to them. Then you move on — there are texts to send, phone calls to make, meetings to attend...

If you have ever felt unable to help in such a situation, head out to The World’s Big Sleep Out at Elliot’s Beach this Saturday.

On the night of December 7, over fifty thousand people around the globe will sleep outdoors, to raise awareness and donations for the homeless. The World’s Big Sleep Out campaign is a one-off global campaign that aims to see 50,000 participants from around the globe sleep out to raise $50 million in funding for the homeless.

Started by Josh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of the Scotland-based charity Social Bite, the event is run in partnership with the Institute of Global Homelessness (IGH), UNICEF USA, Malala Fund and Social Bite.

The campaign will be simultaneously held in cities around the globe, including London, New York, Edinburgh, Chicago, Santiago, Dublin, Newcastle, Brussels, Barcelona and Madrid. In India, it will be held across 24 cities and towns.

Flagship fund-raising sleep-out events will be held in Times Square, New York and Trafalgar Square, London. Celebrities like Dame Helen Mirren and Will Smith are appearing live at some of these events to read bedtime stories, alongside performances by the world’s leading musicians.

In Chennai, the event will be hosted by The Banyan and World’s Big Sleep Out. There will be music performances by Pioneer Music Gym, the band Undercover, and dance troupe Indisha Fine Arts. Cultural performances will be staged by homeless people, as well as by students of Presidency College and The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health.

Celebrities and eminent personalities will also be sharing their thoughts and contributing to the cause. Organisers are expecting between 500 and 1,000 people to attend, and have obtained permission from Chennai Police and Chennai Corporation for people to sleep on the beach and pavement. Participants can bring bedsheets and mats.

Though The World’s Big Sleep Out involves spending a night under the stars, it is not about pretending to be homeless. It is an act of solidarity — to give you a tiny insight into what is a reality for many, and to raise the funds and awareness needed to help them.

Preetha Krishnadas, Director of The Banyan, says, “The United Nations Human Settlements Program estimates that 1.1 billion people live in inadequate housing, and data suggests that more than 100 million people have no housing at all. There are an estimated 70.8 million people displaced around the globe because of war, natural disasters and extreme poverty. According to the 2011 Census, India has more than 1.7 million homeless citizens. In Chennai alone, at any given point, estimates place the number at around 40,000 to 50,000.”

“Homelessness” she adds, “is a violation of the basic human right to adequate housing. Homeless people, especially women, are among the most marginalised, ignored, discriminated. This is an opportunity for those keen to serve homeless people, to come together and show the world that Chennai is a kind city with a warm heart.”

Says Josh, “ We are a small, interconnected world. By collectively sacrificing our beds for one night, we can lend a hand of compassion and solidarity with those who need it most — homeless people on our doorsteps and refugees internationally.”

In Chennai, The World’s Big Sleep Out will be held at Elliot’s Beach, Besant Nagar from 7 pm on December 7 to 6 am on December 8.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 9:24:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/international-event-the-worlds-big-sleep-out-has-a-chennai-connect/article30163498.ece

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