A MONTROSE student is planning a mass sleepout in the town to highlight the plight of the homeless at home and abroad.
Jordan Bruce, an art and design student at Angus College, was moved to take action after seeing the scale of the problem in the Hungarian capital Budapest during a recent college trip.
The 21-year-old was so shocked at what he saw that, on his return, he decided to organise the fund-raiser in aid of homeless charity Shelter.
To find out local people’s opinions and knowledge of homelessness, he took to the High Street on Saturday where friend Blayre Mackellar posed as a homeless person to help draw attention to the project.
He said: “I don’t know if I was just being naive or stupid, but I just didn’t realise how bad the problem was. In Budapest I saw streets full of homeless people, a lot of whom were raking in bins and in some cases sleeping in the big bins. It seemed to be in most of the streets of the city centre.
“I’ve always been aware there’s a problem here, but I would say I was passionate about it until the college trip and I came back with my eyes open a bit more.”
The Hungarian Parliament recently made homelessness illegal and punishable by a fine or prison sentence. Government MPs proposed the regulation on the grounds that Budapest could not cope with the large number of people on the streets. There are thought to be around 10,000 homeless people living in capital.
At the time, critics and charities for the homeless said it would be unenforceable and that hostels lack sufficient places. Last week United Nations experts on human rights and housing called on Hungary to repeal the regulation.
Jordan continued: “My friend and I got together and we’ve had this idea about getting people involved, getting sponsorship and sleeping rough for a night. We wanted to find out people’s opinions before we did anything and get views just by asking in the street. We were there for about three hours and got some good feedback.
“I’ve been in touch with Shelter and have their support but I’m still finding out the legality of it and also safety aspects but I’m hoping to get it organised for the summer, maybe in August.”