EDINBURGH, Dec 10, (Agencies): Celebrities joined, and entertained, thousands of fundraisers for the homeless sleeping rough in a Scottish park in frigid conditions overnight Saturday, in what organisers described as the biggest event of its kind globally.
Around 8,000 people gathered in Princes Street Gardens in central Edinburgh to hear the likes of singer-songwriters Liam Gallagher and Amy MacDonald, and bands Deacon Blue and Frightened Rabbit, “busk” for the cause.
Live Aid founder Bob Geldof, Monty Python comic John Cleese, Olympian Chris Hoy, comedian Rob Brydon and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon were also among the well-known faces helping to keep participants fed and entertained through the night.
Geldof, who recalled sleeping rough in London when he first arrived in the city decades ago, hailed the turnout “magnificent” and said it was more than just a gesture.
The event was organised by charity Social Bite, which has become a magnet for celebrity support in recent years.
Actors George Clooney and Leonardo Di Caprio have visited their Scottish restaurants, which are staffed in large part by people who have struggled with homelessness.
Geldof called it “a cafe where you get your dignity back”.
Josh Littlejohn, co-founder of Social Bite, said: “We’ve been really fortunate to get some high profile visitors.
“That really put the spotlight on our organisation, and really gave us a platform to do things like this, to really push things as far as we can, to make an impact and raise awareness about homelessness.
“Everybody attending has raised money — some of them lots and lots of money — so hopefully the event will raise between £3-4 million (3.4-4.6 million euros, $4-5.4 million) for homelessness, as well as putting it at the top of the political agenda.”
A study commissioned by Social Bite to accompany the event found that child poverty is the main driver of homelessness in Scotland.
“We knew, anecdotally from meeting lots of homeless people, that almost anyone you meet who is homeless have been dealt some really terrible cards in life and suffered really harrowing circumstances,” added Littlejohn.
“When you learn that it is typically as a result not of individual decision making but of the structures of society and the cards that people were dealt, it really compels you to be much more compassionate to those individuals and restructure society so that they are not so marginalised.”
A series of reports in recent weeks have exposed the scale of inequality in Britain.
A social mobility commission created by the British government found a massive gulf between the life chances of people living in London and the rest of the country.
A few days after the publication of their latest report, the commissioners resigned en-masse complaining the government in Westminster is too focused on Brexit to deal with the issue adequately.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) recently revealed the first sustained increases in child and pensioner poverty for 20 years in England, where homelessness rose by almost 50 per cent between 2009/10 and 2016/17.
The roaring cheers and screams at Jingle Ball grew louder and louder as performers hit the stage, from Ed Sheeran to Sam Smith to Demi Lovato.
But when Taylor Swift entered Madison Square Garden on Friday night, the noise easily hit its peak.
Swift closed the nearly five-hour concert in New York City, strutting from left to right as she sang “Shake It Off,” “Blank Space” and the latest hits off her new album, “reputation.”
Even the sound of her name earned screeching cheers, as iHeartRadio and Z100 teased the performance throughout the night.
“Well, thank you New York,” she yelled after she kicked off her set with the thumping “…Ready for It?”
The venue, full of teenagers, their parents and the in-between, transformed into a colorful dance party when Swift sang “Shake It Off.” She closed the night with “Look What You Made Me Do,” performing dance moves in a loose black top, black shorts and blonde bangs.
Sheeran — who joined Swift onstage for the new song “End Game” — kicked off the concert by strumming his guitar, and belting hits like “Shape of You,” ‘’Thinking Out Loud” and “Perfect.”
The rapper Logic, who recently earned two Grammy nominations, was also a fan favorite: the audience was energetic when he performed “1-800-273-8255,” the suicide-prevention anthem that recently peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Smith, who slowed things down during the mostly high-energy show, was a vocal powerhouse, while Lovato was in fine form, especially during “Tell Me You Love Me” and “Sorry Not Sorry.” Others who dominated with radio hits this year performed Friday, including Halsey, Julia Michaels, Charlie Puth and the Chainsmokers.
Jingle Ball also became a stage for already-known singers showcasing their solo chops: One Direction’s Niall Horan, who launched a No. 1 album this year, was a highlight during “Too Much To Ask” and “Slow Hands”; his former band mate, Liam Payne, won over the audience during “Strip It Down”; and ex-Fifth Harmony singer Camila Cabello, whose song “Havana” is No. 2 on the Hot 100, performed excitedly.
Fall Out Boy and the rising boy band Why Don’t We also performed.