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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.

Social Bite Fund Trustees

Roz Cuschieri (Chair)
Josh Littlejohn MBE
Marjory Rodger MBE
Morag McNeill

Social Bite Limited Directors

Katie Crook (Chair)
Josh Littlejohn
Alice Thompson
Graeme Menzies

Social Bite Restaurants Limited
(Vesta Restaurant & Bar) Directors

Edine Gassabi
Josh Littlejohn MBE
Simon Littlejohn
Martin Wishart
David Wither
Marjory Rodger MBE

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.

The Social Bite Fund 2014-17

Over the last three years the Social Bite Fund has successfully followed this strategy and has significantly scaled up its social and charitable impact through our network of social enterprise retail outlets and corporate catering business. We have also formalised and created structure around the relationship between the parent charity and the trading company, the provision of free food and the process for training and employing homeless people.

Some of the key milestones in this journey are as follows:

• We have grown the organisation now to one that distributed 98,847 items of free food and hot drink to people affected by homelessness from Dec 16-Nov 17. The distribution of free food and drink items is tracked using our electronic point of sale (EPOS) system and reported back to Trustees on a monthly basis. It is the understanding of the trustees, we are now the largest distributor of free fresh food to those in need in the UK.

• We distribute free food via our retail outlets at set times throughout the day (9-12pm and 2-3.30pm) as well as running twice-weekly Social Suppers events in each of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen where we welcome homeless people into our shops to sit down and have a hot meal and access support from 4-5.30pm. Because of these activities we are now engaging with an average of 345 vulnerable people each week across the three cities. Our help goes beyond providing food but encompasses helping people access support services when they are in crisis as well as linking people to training, education, volunteering and employment opportunities.

• With regards to monitoring and evaluation, our interventions are tracked using an online database where we record all contact with the vulnerable people we support and the outcomes we help them achieve. We also use the highly regarded Outcomes Star tool for our 1:1 work to measure the distance travelled by the people we support more intensively e.g. to track improvements in health and wellbeing and addressing barriers such as substance misuse and mental health issues.

• We have developed our Social Bite Academy programme that provides highly supported employment and volunteering opportunities to people affected by homelessness. In 16-17, we directly employed 30 people with a background of homelessness and/or other complex needs in our social enterprise. In addition, we supported 22 people affected by homelessness to volunteer. This work has generated successful outcomes in terms of providing jobs within our own social enterprise, supporting people to find gainful employment elsewhere, supporting people to access housing and to leave happier, healthier and more independent lives.

• We have formalised and documented the financial relationship between the parent charity and the trading company. This relationship is based on the trading company effectively cross charging the parent charity for delivering key charitable objectives.

• To summarise the logic of the cross-charging formulae: free food is charged at cost price; employment cost is based on staff time devoted to preparing and distributing free food to homeless customers plus the wages of employees with high support needs based at our central kitchen; overheads are limited to rent, rates, heating, light and depreciation at 50% of relevant costs to reflect the proportion of time that premises are used for delivering charitable activity.  Costs are only funded up to the point of achieving a breakeven to avoid Social Bite Limited generating a profit, thereby surplus funds generated by the trading company are effectively donated back to the parent charity.

• In 2015, funding was sought from the Big Lottery Fund to put in place a highly skilled staff team and relevant resources to enable us to maximise the ability of Social Bite to generate social impact. The Social Impact Director and her team of 5 support staff are all funded by the Big Lottery Fund grant. The staff team is highly experienced and well qualified in supporting people affected by homelessness and includes two trained Counsellors.

• Over the course of the 4 year grant, we aim to provide significant support to 600 people over the period. We have recently completed year one monitoring requirements and are pleased to have exceeded our targeted outcomes on time and under budget.

Financial management of Social Bite Fund and subsidiaries

• The financial management of Social Bite Fund and its trading subsidiaries is carried out by the accountancy firm Mazars. Mazars have provided invaluable support in helping us develop our systems for financial management and better understand our evolving business model.  Johnston Carmichael remain as Social Bite’s auditors.

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 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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