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Scotland: Villages for the Homeless

SOCIAL BITE describe themselves as a Movement to End Homelessness

Homeless Villages, Social Bite, Scotland


With so many sad stories in the world it is refreshing and heartwarming to see good hearted people daring to take on the challenges of homelessness. The story of Social Bite is amazing. In just eleven years they, alongside those that embraced their vision, have sent shockwaves out into their world of influence.

Many of us dream of making a difference or changing the world but, oftentimes we feel overwhelmed and disempowered by the enormity of needs around us. By acquainting ourselves with success stories and creative and innovative ways to offer solutions, we can learn to become a Game Changer.

Social Bite

Social Bite describe themselves as a charity and social business providing homes, jobs, food, and support to empower people to transform their own lives.

Back in 2012 they were a small Edinburgh coffee shop when an encounter with a young homeless man looking for work challenged their thinking. They offered him employment and it is evident from their website that their desire to make a difference triggered waves of creative and innovative thinking.

Over a decade later they have positioned themselves to transform lives and give those of us searching for solutions a wonderful example of persistence and community mindedness.

Their vision is for a society where no one has to be homeless.

"We challenge the Status Quo
by Pioneering Solutions
that Create Lasting Change."

The concept of Supportive Employment undergirds their work and it is not hard to imagine the tenacity and hard work behind increasing their capacity and ability to make a difference. Their ongoing aim is for 1 in 4 of their team to have come from a background of homelessness.

Social Bite Cafe

Their Starting Place

As their engagement with homeless people increased they invested in creative solutions.

After a few months, we introduced a “Pay it Forward” system in the coffee shops where customers could buy some food in advance, buying a lunch for people experiencing homelessness to enjoy.

From the onset they envisioned a community movement; a body of like-minded people with a united vision to end homelessness.

Alongside the Pay it Forward program people were invited to donate skills or resources and to be part of mass participation events.

From 2016 to 2018, we organised mass participation fundraising sleep out events called Sleep in the Park. These events have seen over 18,000 people sleep out to call for an end to homelessness.

Social Bite Sleep Park


Incredibly their efforts paid off and they touch the hearts of like-minded people. Their raised over eight million pounds (GBP) which they used to invest in a range of flagship projects to try and bring an end to homelessness.

The Social Bite Village.

In 2018 they took on some vacant council owned land in Edinburgh and built a small village made up of 11 two-bedroom prefabricated houses and a large community hub.

Today this village is home to

a vibrant community of people

helping each other get back on their feet.

They partner with the Cyrenians, a Scottish homeless charity, to provide dedicated on-site support with links to employment, education and community activities.

Scotland’s Housing First program

They managed to secure 830 mainstream flats across 5 cities to provide permanent homes to Scotland’s rough sleepers.

Working with the Scottish Government they were also able to fund wrap-around support in order to help people sustain their tenancies.

"More than 1333 people have

been given homes with support,

and the response has been adopted

by ALL local authorities in Scotland."

The World's Big Sleepout

In 2019, Co-Founder, Josh Littlejohn MBE, established the charity The World’s Big Sleep Out which took their work global.

The international campaign called The World’s Big Sleepout, took place in 52 cities throughout the world.

The events saw 60,000 people sleep out on a cold December night to raise awareness and funds on the issue of homelessness.

The World’s Big Sleep Out closed both Times Square NYC and Trafalgar Square in London for this, with Will Smith and Dame Helen Mirren telling a bedtime story to participants that slept out. Social Bite hosted the local Edinburgh event in Princes Street Gardens.

The Worlds Big Sleepout, Social Bite

Break the Cycle with Sir Chris Hoy.

In 2021 Social Bite were able to host one of the few events able to take place that year - the launch of their first ever Break the Cycle with Sir Chris Hoy. In the last two years over 1500 people have pedaled for change across Scotland.

Adding to the WOW Factor

  • They have become major employer of people experiencing homelessness and extreme barriers to employment.

  • They are one of the largest providers of freshly made free food in the UK to those in need.

  • They normally provide over 180,000 items of food and hot drinks every year through our network of coffee shops and distributed over 800,000 food packs during the recent pandemic.

  • They have a restaurant, Vesta Bar & Kitchen, formerly called ‘Home’, which opened in 2016 and which provides weekly sit-down meals for an average of 40 people experiencing homelessness and food poverty.

  • They offer training opportunities for their supported employees.

  • Starting in 2014 they have opened their shops every Christmas Day and Christmas Eve to host festivities with all the trimmings, for people who might not have anywhere else to go.

  • Since 2020 their annual Festival of Kindness collects gifts and donations throughout the festive period to support for people who are vulnerable or experiencing homelessness.

  • In 2021 they launched their UK-wide employment programme. Jobs First in order to provide real job opportunities.

The Social Bite Charity website link

Social Bite Story on You Tube

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