Food Provision and Engagement Programmes for Homeless People
We distribute over 100,000 items of food and hot drinks every year to Scotland’s most vulnerable people. Homeless customers are invited into our chain of sandwich shops to enjoy our handmade food and tasty coffee throughout the day. We also open up in the evenings for a series of “Social Suppers” events. These include “Women’s only” nights for homeless women, and nights for refugees. We also run a joint venture restaurant called Vesta Restaurant and Bar, which opens exclusively to people experiencing homelessness every Monday afternoon for a free sit-down two-course meal.
Nationwide Employment Programme
Roughly 1 in 4 of Social Bite’s staff have struggled with homelessness. In our experience a job can be incredibly transformative. It gives you purpose in life. You are trusted with responsibilities. You can earn money for yourself and your family. You develop friendships and relationships with colleagues and customers. A job is something that most of us take for granted, but for homeless people it can seem like an impossible dream. At Social Bite we have pioneered the way for homeless people to use employment as the central means of re-integrating into society and supporting themselves.
Christmas Dinners and Presents for Homeless People
Every year we open up our shops on Christmas Day for homeless people to come and get a Christmas dinner and some loving company. Our friends at itison.com run a major fundraising campaign that helps to fund our free food provision on Christmas Day and throughout the year. We also give out an abundance of presents to homeless children, families and individuals at Christmas.
The Social Bite Village
We are now embarking on a project to provide an accommodation model for homeless people, creating an alternative to the sub-standard and ineffective temporary accommodation solutions that currently exist. The Social Bite Village is a project that combines an innovative housing model, using vacant council owned land, along with a supported community environment. The project is entirely geared at breaking the cycle of homelessness and giving residents pathways into employment and permanent housing. This is a project run in partnership with an incredible charity called the Cyrenians.
We are working with Wheatley Group and Edindex to develop a major “Housing First” Programme for almost 500 homeless people to be given a mainstream house and a structured support resource. Through money we raised at our Sleep in the Park event, we will be funding a significant support for vulnerable people to sustain their new tenancies. This support will be delivered through other charities and will include support with addiction, mental health, as well as practical things such as getting a bank account open or getting into employment.
Campaigning and Advocacy
We created the world’s largest ever Sleep Out – Sleep in the Park – as a campaign calling for the end of homelessness in Scotland. The event saw 8,000 people sleep out in Princes St Gardens in Edinburgh and was covered globally by the media. The campaign resulted in 500 houses being made available to rough sleepers and homeless people, 160 jobs being offered, 35 spare rooms being offered and homelessness being at the front at centre of political attention in Scotland.
Academic Study on Ending Homelessness
Our campaign to end homelessness in Scotland had to be underpinned with academic research on the statistics and solutions of homelessness in Scotland. We commissioned Heriot Watt to carry out a major study entitled ‘Eradicating Core Homelessness in Scotland’s Four Largest Cities’. The study gave us a framework for investing funds and also informed government action through the Scottish Government’s Homelessness Action Group, which our co-founder Josh Littlejohn sits on.
Supporting Other Charities
Through our fundraising activities, we are increasingly funding other homelessness charities in Scotland, who carry out amazing work and deliver incredible interventions in homelessness. We recently awarded Bethany Christian Trust £25,000 to expand the capacity of the night shelter in Edinburgh. Other charities we have supported in the past include Streetwork, the Cyrenians and Shelter. As our fundraising grows, we will continue to invest in and support a range ofcharities supporting the homeless community in Scotland.
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