ACCIDENTAL hero Josh Littlejohn has a way with words.
He has already persuaded George Clooney to go to the tiny cafe where he employs homeless people to serve coffee and sandwiches.
The following year Josh got Leonardo DiCaprio to visit his charity that finds homes for those living on the streets.
Harry and Meghan are also supporters of his remarkable efforts to help homeless people turn their lives around.
And now he wants thousands of people in Britain and around the world — including YOU — to spend a night sleeping outdoors that could raise an incredible £40million for homeless charities.
Dozens of celebrities will join thousands of locals in 50 cities worldwide for the World’s Big Sleep Out on Saturday, December 7 and sleep under the stars just like the homeless do every night.
Helen home help
DAME Helen Mirren will read a bedtime story in London’s Trafalgar Square to fight homelessness.
The Oscar-winner, 74, right, is one of a host of celebrities who will unite on December 7 for The World’s Big Sleep Out, which aims to raise £40million for what she calls “a global issue”.
US actor Will Smith will tell a story in Times Square, New York.
‘THE NEW LIVE AID’
Josh, 33, already an MBE for his services to the homeless, said: “We hope to create an historic global moment. Like Live Aid in 1985, where everyone was focused on a particular issue and a large amount of money was raised.”
In 2017 Josh organised an event which saw 8,000 people sleeping out in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens — where the temperature dropped to minus seven degrees centigrade — which raised £3.9million. Liam Gallagher performed, while comedian John Cleese read a bedtime story.
George Clooney at the Social Bite Cafe, which employs homeless people, in 2015[/caption]
Leonardo DiCaprio visited ‘sister venue’ Vesta Kitchen And Bar in 2016[/caption]
Prince Harry and Meghan went to Social Bite in Edinburgh in February last year[/caption]
More sleep outs across Scotland last December raised £3.6million.
He used some of the money to build a village of 11 two-bedroom prefab houses and a community centre for homeless on derelict land overlooking the Firth of Forth.
And he has also persuaded councils and the Scottish government to set aside 850 flats for people who do not have anywhere to live, as part of Josh’s charity Social Bite’s Housing First plan to tackle homelessness.
Josh’s scheme for this year’s global sleep out did not get off to a good start, after he was told that the New York Police Department would never grant a permit for a sleep out in the US city.
So he flew from Edinburgh to the Big Apple where, armed with a video of the sleep out in his home city, he met Scottish ex-pats who put him in touch with the former chief of staff to mayor Rudy Giuliani.
The next day Josh made a presentation to bigwigs at City Hall. Afterwards he was told: “Central Park will be very difficult — but how about Times Square?”
Josh said: “To my amazement, New York allowed us to close down four plazas of Times Square to host about 1,600 people to sleep out.”
New York will join London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Dublin, Newcastle, Brighton and Newport, as well as Brussels, Madrid, LA, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, New Delhi, Manila, Hong Kong, Brisbane and Tokyo, which will all have sleep outs.
‘I’D BE DEAD WITHOUT JOSH’
A quirk of fate catapulted Josh, 33, into being a champion for the homeless. After failing to land a job as a civil servant in 2012, Josh, his brother Jack and friend Alice Thompson opened their tiny Edinburgh sandwich bar, also called Social Bite.
He says: “Pete, a 19-year-old homeless man, sold the Big Issue outside the cafe door. After about two weeks he asked if he could have a job.”
Liam Gallagher performs at the sleep out Josh Littlejohn organised in 2017 and which raised £3.9m for the homeless[/caption]
Social Bite founder Josh Littlejohn says his preconceptions about homeless people disappeared after listening to their stories[/caption]
Josh said yes — then took on more homeless people.
He said: “We had a preconceived notion that homelessness was the result of people making bad decisions or getting addicted to alcohol or drugs. But when we heard their stories we very quickly began to understand that these people had been dealt extraordinarily different cards to most of us.
“Many ended up homeless in their teenage years, pretty much through absolutely no fault of their own. I wanted to do something about it.
“We encouraged customers to buy an extra coffee or an extra sandwich for someone who is homeless to have for free later.
“We put a sign on the door to invite homeless people in. We were soon feeding 40 or 50 people every day with free food.”
They weren’t the first celebs to see it in action — in November 2015 George Clooney visited after Josh invited him.
The Hollywood actor met 54-year-old former heroin addict Colin Childs, who had lived in doorways for three years after splitting up with his partner.
He was the third homeless person Josh employed at Social Bite — and he is still there seven years later.
The business now has five cafes around Scotland plus casual dining restaurant the Vesta Kitchen And Bar in Edinburgh, which serves a free two-course meal to up to 50 homeless people every Monday.
How YOU can take part
YOU can support The World’s Big Sleep Out by joining an official event in any of the 50 cities and towns taking part.
Alternatively, host your own night by encouraging friends and family to sleep in your garden or any other place that is safe and legal.
Or just donate. Half the money raised will go to local homeless charities. The rest will go to the Institute for Global Homeless, Unicef and the Malala Fund.
Visit bigsleepout.com to find out more.
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Colin was also present in 2016 when Leonardo DiCaprio visited the Vesta restaurant.
He says: “If it had not been for Josh I’m sure I’d be dead now. He has helped around 70 people like me.
“My life has improved tremendously since I started working and have a roof over my head.”
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