The Social Bite Fund (SC045232) is a registered charity in Scotland which seeks to alleviate homelessness through innovative solutions from employment and support programmes, to temporary housing.
Another key aim of the Social Bite Fund is to promote a new way of doing business through the promotion of a “Social Business” model, where 100% of the profits of trading companies are directed at social problems in Scotland.
Social Bite wholly owns two companies which operate the Social Business model, namely Social Bite, a chain of retail stores and catering concessions, with a quarter of its workforce coming from a homeless background; and Vesta Restaurant and Bar which provides training and employment opportunities for homeless and vulnerable people, as well as a Pay It Forward option. Vesta Restaurant and Bar also provides a weekly sit down meal for those experiencing homelessness in Edinburgh, taking place on a Monday 3 pm – 5 pm.
In 2018, the Social Bite Fund established the Social Bite Village, a community of modular housing for 20 homeless people in Edinburgh with the aim of supporting these people into permanent housing and employment, breaking the cycle of homelessness for good.
The Evolution of the Social Bite Model
Like most good organisations we have evolved over the years adapting to the needs of the homeless people we work with and experimenting by creating new business models and solutions to homelessness.
Social Bite was set up as small sandwich shop in August 2012. We became increasingly engaged in homelessness and The Social Bite Fund charity obtained SCIO charitable status in November 2014.
In 2014, the structure was established as a parent charity, Social Bite Fund, with a trading subsidiary, Social Bite Ltd. The aim for the Ltd. trading company was to build a model of five retail sandwich shops, (two in Edinburgh, two in Glasgow, one in Aberdeen) serviced by a central production kitchen in Livingston. The corporate catering arm was also going to be developed further, and all premises were to be connected by van deliveries.
Where this Social Bite model differed from other charity shops was that as well as aiming to deliver a financial surplus from the trading company, the charity would carry out various charitable objectives, working symbiotically with the trading company.
These charitable objectives were centred around the employment and training of vulnerable people from backgrounds of homelessness, as well as the provision of free food and support services to homeless and vulnerable people. It was envisaged that these charitable aims would be carried out in the same premises at the commercial operations, thereby maximising the use of the organisation’s infrastructure. Any profits made by the trading company would be passed back to the parent charity.
Social Bite Restaurants Ltd.
Vesta Restaurant & Bar is a collaboration between David Hall and Social Bite Restaurants Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Social Bite Fund (registered charity number SCO45232). Included on the Restaurant’s board are Michelin-starred chef Martin Wishart, Chairman of Montpeliers Group David Wither and experienced restaurateur Simon Littlejohn. The restaurant, which was famously visited by Hollywood A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio in November 2016, remains committed to the ethos of Home with training opportunities, a weekly meal service and a continuation of the scheme where customers are encouraged to ‘Pay Forward’ meals for those who are experiencing homelessness.
Social Bite Communities Ltd
Having engaged extensively with the homeless community and learned more about the issue of homelessness, the Social Bite Fund embarked on a new project in 2016 to provide accommodation for homeless people linked to support and employment – areas of work where we are already actively engaged. The Social Bite Village is currently under construction in Granton, Edinburgh. When completed in Spring 2018, it will provide a highly supported community for 20 people at a time.
In February 2017, Social Bite Communities (SBCL) Ltd, SC557500, was established to oversee this project. This is another wholly owned subsidiary of Social Bite Fund.
The reason SBF chose not to oversee the build directly was because it required a significant degree of expertise in construction, housing and homelessness accommodation and support, therefore it was decided that a new board should be assembled. The board is chaired by Alister Steele formerly CEO of Castle Rock Edinvar. This board was given a specific brief around launching the project, which entailed detailed work on construction and house building as well as securing a charity partnership to devise and manage a support structure for the residents.
We are now working in partnership with the Cyrenians, Hillcrest Housing Association and City of Edinburgh Council to develop the operational model for the Village. The Cyrenians will use their long-standing expertise in operating supportive, therapeutic communities to providing the on-site staff team, who will support Village residents and meet the standards of the Care Inspectorate. Hillcrest will be supporting us by providing tenancy and facilities management. City of Edinburgh Council intends to provide us with income to house people at the Village who are currently in emergency B&B accommodation.
Upon build completion in May 2018, the Social Bite Communities board transferred all assets, leases and licences applicable to this site to the Social Bite Fund.
The Village was launched in May, the first community members moved in at the beginning of July 2018.
Fundraising and Distribution of Funds to other charities
In the early years of Social Bite Fund, we gave out a small number of small grants in line with our charitable purpose when we passed on rebates given to us given by our food suppliers. For example in year ending Nov 2015, we make donations to SAMH, Shelter Scotland, Cyrenians, STV Appeal, Streetwork, BRAC, Microloan Foundation.
We also supported a number of charities in 2012-1016 in relation to the running of our Scottish Business Awards event.
With respect to fundraising, there have been three key areas that have supported the development of our own activities in support of the homeless community:
• Large grant from Big Lottery Fund
• Online Fundraising at Christmas. We run a campaign to fund our free food provision for the homeless throughout the year on a website called itison.com. The website waive all commissions for the campaign and it successfully generates in the region of £400K per annum to fund our free food provision.
• Sleepout event held in December 2016, which raised £500k for the development of Social Bite Village in Granton.
Then over the last 12 months, we have put our fundraising energy into developing and running a much larger sleep out called Sleep in the Park to fund our existing work with the homeless community as well as galvanise collective action across Scotland around the issue of homelessness:
• Ahead of Sleep in the Park, in Autumn 2017, we commissioned Heriot Watt University to carry out research titled ‘Eradicating ‘Core Homelessness’ in Scotland’s Four Largest Cities: Providing an Evidence Base and Guiding a Funding Framework’. The team at Heriot Watt are the UK’s leading experts on the issue of homelessness and their work provided us with the foundation for our strategy relating to Sleep in the Park.
• Sleep in the Park was held on December 9th 2017 in Prince’s Street Gardens and was the world’s largest ever sleep out. We aim to use the funds raised to carry out our own core charitable objectives, but also to distribute funds to other homelessness charities. We have already donated £25,000 to Bethany Christian Trust to expand the capacity of the Winter Night Shelter in Edinburgh.
• Social Bite Fund is also in early discussions with experienced funders with the aim of working alongside this established funding organisations to help us consider how we might distribute funds raised in line with best practise.
• Social Bite plan to use a significant proportion of the funds raised at Sleep in the Park to fund a nationwide “Housing First” program, with an immediate ambition of bringing 500 people off the streets and out of homelessness in an 18 month timeframe.
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