The Big Sleep Out

Last Friday, Leith resident Neil Rolland was one of 100 people who left their homes to sleep rough for one night on the Royal Mile for the Big Sleep Out 2011. Neil made a shelter from cardboard, a film and some money for the Edinburgh homeless as part of the 10th anniversary event organised by the Leith based Bethany Christian Trust

The fantastic film starts with Neil in his boxers layering up for the evening. He captures the atmosphere of the night along with the people, shelters and bacon baps, all within the time it takes to play the soundtrack of Mumford and Sons, ‘The Cave’.

Neil last spoke to Greener Leith about his closet dancing during the strictly final for our Strickly Leith Dancing special. I caught up with Neil once again to find out more about the Big Sleep Out.

Neil, great to speak to you again. So why did you do the Big Sleep Out?

I believe in what Bethany do and how they do it. I think they are a fantastic organisation who are helping people get back on their feet after years of feeling insignificant and broken. I volunteer on a Street Impact team and have developed relationship with people on the streets. Some of these people have become friends and I have seen them go into Bethany programmes and come out the other end filled with hope.

Sleeping rough for one night is hardly a sacrifice in order to raise money and awareness for such a good cause, so as soon as I saw the promotion, I knew I had to do it.

Was it cold?

Not really. All the layers you see me put on in this video I didn’t actually need. One pair of jeans was fine and a t-shirt and hoodie. The coldest point was in the morning at around 6am.

What was the best bit?

Getting to know the people I was with was pretty cool. All different ages from 8 to 80, It was a great crowd of folks. You learn a lot about someone when you spend the night sleeping outside with them.

There was also a shelter building competition using cardboard and after a few false starts and what looked like a ramshackle mess, we managed to construct a two bedroom house with a chimney which impressed the judges so much that we were one of the two winners!!

Congratulations, and what’s next for you?

Myself and a couple of friends have just started a small film collective called Little City Pictures which is about everyone sharing their talents and collaborating to create films and music videos. We’ll take turns around at directing and producing so everyone gets a chance to develop and realise their ideas and that we all learn along the way. It’s very exciting as we all have different talents and together we seem to be producing some promising stuff.

That all sounds great. Thanks for talking to us again and for sharing your big sleep out experience with Greener Leith.

To find out more about the Bethany Christian Trust and how you can help click here. You can contribute to Neil’s fundraising page here.

Written by Emily Dodd


  2 comments for “The Big Sleep Out

  1. Rebecca Boyle
    Tuesday, 29th March 2011 at 12:57 pm

    What a fantastic way to raise awareness and money, I'll be on the look out for the 2012 event and encouraging more people to take part. Emily?

  2. Emily Dodd
    Wednesday, 30th March 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Thanks Rebecca, I'm in if you are? As long as I can take my hot water bottle (:

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