Social Bite

Social Bite are a national Social Enterprise in Scotland. Through a chain of cafes and restaurants we employ over 100 people many of whom have struggled with homelessness. We are the largest distributor of fresh free food to the homeless in the UK giving out over 100,000 items of food and hot drinks per year.

We are also are launching homelessness accomodation through our Social Bite Village project.

For more information on Social Bite please watch the following video:

The Social Bite story - A blog from our Head of Social Impact Jane Bruce

When Social Bite was launched 5 years ago, Co-Founders Josh Littlejohn and Alice Thompson wanted to set up a social business inspired by the principles of Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.

They didn’t plan to champion the cause of homelessness but our orginal shop’s place on a busy Edinburgh high street meant they got to know plenty of people facing the problem.

Josh and Alice realised there were a couple of simple ways Social Bite could help directly – give people jobs and give people food.

So they set about doing just that. We’ve worked hard ever since to keep listening to the homeless community and to keep improving what we do to help.

People need more than a roof

There are many different reasons someone becomes homeless - including poverty, relationship breakdown or falling through the gap after leaving care, the armed forces or prison.

People affected by homelessness have tough obstables to overcome but equally we’ve found the people we’ve met have massive strengths and talent too.

Our Co-Founders responded to homeless people asking for jobs by giving them a shot.  

Since offering those first jobs, we’ve provided paid employment to over 35 people with a background of homelessness and/or complex needs.

We believe in the potential of people regardless of their circumstances and have developed our Social Bite Academy specifically to provide supported employment and volunteering opportunities to people affected by homelessness.

Our experience has shown that real work acts as a platform for a person to transform their whole life for the better including helping them find stable and permanent housing.

Sandwiches as a starter for ten

People affected by homelessness are people first and foremost. Often the system has dealt people a very rough hand. Poverty and a punitive benefits system leave an increasing number of people close to the cliff edge of homelessness.

So we offer people food and support without judgement.

Mostly people affected by homelessness first come into contact with Social Bite in search of food. Someone might be sleeping rough or living in emergency accommodation without enough money and no kitchen facilities to be able to cook hot or healthy food.

We now provide food and drink via our network of 5 cafes in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen to an average of 150 people each week day. We also run weekly Social Suppers events to help build on our initial connection with people. Our Suppers events are staffed by expert staff plus teams of brilliant, committed volunteers who help serve food and drinks but who are also there to chat and listen to folk.

Our Suppers events help people feel less lonely and isolated. This is often the first step in someone building up their strength and capacity to work on the barriers that are holding them back. We work alongside a range of partner charities to help people access support and to take steps away from homelessness and back towards a happier and healthier life.

Something a bit different

At Social Bite we are entrepreneurs at heart. We’re compelled to experiment and to look at the problem of homelessness from new angles.

That’s where the idea for Social Bite Village came from.

Why not put derelict land in our major towns and cities to good use? What if we could find a way to build low cost, high quality, movable houses to put on unused land? Doesn’t everyone deserve a decent, safe place to live?!

We were lucky to learn about the Tiny House movement and to become friends with brilliant NestHouse designer, Johnathan Avery. The rest is history! We’ve since roped in people from across the public, private and charity sector to make the Social Bite Village project a reality. It’s a brilliant example of what can happen when people from across society work together on this issue.

Launching in early 2018, the Social Bite Village will be a highly supported community for up to 20 people. Each person will be resident for around 12 -18 months. Over this time, people will contribute to the life of the community, learn a range of new skills and engage in work and voluntary placements.

After 12-18 months, we will support residents into permanent accommodation and provide pathways to mainstream employers, supporting their journey back into society. As each person moves on, a new member will join to be supported and mentored by their fellow community members.

We are delighted to be working in partnership with leading Scottish charity, the Cyrenians, to deliver the above programme with a focus on providing high quality support to the members of our Village community.