Actor Brian Cox says Britain has come to accept food banks and homelessness because the country has lost its sense of morality.
Cox was in Edinburgh last night to host the Scottish leg of the World’s Big Sleep Out, which saw 50,000 people sleep out in 52 cities around the world to raise funds and awareness for the issue of homelessness.
The global event, staged by Scots homeless charity Social Bite, saw celebs like Helen Mirren and Will Smith take part in sleep outs in the US in a bid to raise £50 million for homeless projects.
Cox said: “Homelessness and food banks have become a cancer, and we’ve come to accept and ignore them. I find it really distressing how these things are now seen as part of life, and how we have come to accept them. We should never accept them.”
In Edinburgh, New York-based star Cox joined Rab C Nesbitt actor Gregor Fisher on the bill with Dundee band Be Charlotte and Australian singer Angie McMahon.
Scots acts Travis and Tom Walker headlined the London event in Trafalgar Square, also featuring Sir Chris Hoy.
Opera singer Charlotte Church, Dublin band The Script, actor Seth Green and singer Frank Turner were on the bill at events from Los Angeles to Dublin, Brisbane and Chicago.
Cox, who has featured in movies including X-Men and The Bourne Supremacy, compared the issue of homelessness to the Great Depression.
He said: “In places like New York there are more homeless people than there were during the Depression. It’s like a city in itself.”
Last night’s New York sleep out saw Mirren and Smith appear on-stage before thousands sleeping under the lights of Manhattan’s Times Square.
Thousands braved heatwaves in Brisbane and freezing temperatures in Chicago to help the cause.
But Cox warned: “You have to be really careful something like this doesn’t become glamorous. The point about doing something like this is that you stop it, not continue it.
“This really can’t be something which people see as fun.”
The first Big Sleep Out was held in Edinburgh in 2016. The event was the brainchild of Social Bite founder Josh Littlejohn, who launched a cafe in Edinburgh in 2012 to help homeless people.
The first event drew 270 people, with the number steadily growing as acts including Liam Gallagher, Frightened Rabbit, KT Tunstall and Deacon Blue performing in subsequent years.
Mr Littlejohn said: “What the incredible 60,000 people who slept out all over the world have done tonight, is to shine the spotlight on this global issue and show we care.
“I am truly blown away by the response and sincerely grateful to every single person.
“I hope that what happened in this campaign demonstrates a clear mandate for political action to tackle the homelessness crisis to whoever ends up in government in a few days time.”
In London, Dame Helen’s bedtime story was relayed from Trafalgar Square to other sleep-outs on big screens set up by organisers.
The actress said: “Home-lessness on our streets is a real problem in the UK and for many nations throughout the world.
“This coupled with an unprecedented number of refugees being displaced internationally makes this a really important time to focus attention on the issue of global homelessness.”
More than 100 charities will benefit from the money raised by the World’s Big Sleep Out.
In previous years, funds raised have helped pay for 831 flats in Scotland for homeless people.