CHICAGO —People around the world will give up their beds and sleep outside on Dec. 7 to help put an end to global homelessness. The World’s Big Sleep Out aims to raise $50 million and have 50,000 people sleep outdoors across 50 international cities, including London, Manila and Barcelona. DePaul University’s Institute of Global Homelessness will host Chicago’s main event on its Lincoln Park Campus.
“We are a small, interconnected world. Chicago’s Big Sleep Out will show solidarity and raise support for people experiencing homelessness here and worldwide,” said Lydia Stazen, director of the Institute of Global Homelessness at DePaul University. The institute helps cities around the world set and achieve goals to reduce and end street homelessness. As the legacy partner for the event, the Institute of Global Homelessness will provide resources and support to keep momentum going after the sleep out has ended.
Registration for Chicago’s Big Sleep Out closes Dec. 4. To register, sleepers may sign up at http://bit.ly/wbsochisignup
. Participants will sleep on the Quad from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Those who would like to show their support at the event but not sleep out may attend the free indoor program with musician Frank Turner and the Trifecta Dance Collective. The program will center on the voices of people who have experienced homelessness and will be held from 7-9 p.m. in DePaul’s Lincoln Park Student Center, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave. RSVP to the program only at http://bit.ly/wbsotickets
Benefits far and wide
Proceeds from the World’s Big Sleep Out will be split among international and local organizations working to end homelessness. The Institute of Global Homelessness at DePaul is one of the international beneficiaries, along with UNICEF and the Malala Fund.
There are two local charities benefiting from the Chicago Big Sleep Out: All Chicago Making Homelessness History and Depaul USA.
All Chicago: Making Homelessness History leads more than 75 partner organizations in a city-wide effort to prevent and end homelessness. All Chicago serves partners and their clients though emergency financial assistance, community partnerships, data analytics, training and technical assistance and research. Through this collective effort, homelessness in Chicago has decreased by 20% since 2015.
Depaul USA supports people experiencing homelessness to ensure that everyone has a place to call home and a stake in the community. In Chicago, Depaul USA’s Dax House provides housing, case management, counseling and financial assistance with books, food and school expenses for homeless and housing insecure university students, including students at DePaul.
Why sleep out?
Josh Littlejohn, co-founder of Social Bite, is leading the World’s Big Sleep Out movement. Social Bite started as a small sandwich shop in Edinburgh, Scotland, that started offering employment and free food to homeless people. Over the past few years, Littlejohn created momentum with Sleep Outs raising more than $10 million to address homelessness. The World’s Big Sleep Out takes that to the next level.
“By sleeping out for one night, we can simultaneously express our compassion for homeless people who have no other choice and raise lifesaving 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,” said Littlejohn.
Creating a movement, not just a moment, is important to the organizers at DePaul, said Stazen. The Chicago Big Sleep Out will include a live program of music, dance, poetry and testimony that centers on the experiences of people who have been homeless. “We want everyone who sleeps out to think of this as the beginning and to leave the next morning with ideas for ways to stay engaged,” Stazen added.
Participants in Chicago will watch video from events and celebrities in other Big Sleep Out cities. Will Smith and Dame Helen Mirren will participate in the global event by telling a bedtime story in New York’s Times Square and London’s Trafalgar Square respectively. For more information or to sign up for the World’s Big Sleep Out in Chicago, visit https://www.bigsleepout.com/join-a-sleep-out/chicago