Social Bite to build Edinburgh village

Social Bite to build Edinburgh village

Social Bite, the Scottish Social Enterprise, has announced plans to build a village to support homeless people in Edinburgh.

Plans revealed ten purpose-built houses in Granton, Edinburgh, and a model which is hoped to end the vicious cycle of homelessness in the city.

Working in partnership with EDI Group and City of Edinburgh Council, Social Bite will produce a low cost, supervised, safe living environment for up to 20 homeless people for around 12 months each.

Social Bite, which started out as a Sandwich shop will work with the council and other homeless charities to find suitable residents for the Social Bite Village, who will then live in a managed environment where they can learn new skills.

Residents will be people who are currently living in unsupported temporary accommodation, shelters and B&Bs, however the site will not be open to anyone with serious addiction problems.

After 12 months Social Bite will help transition the residents into permanent accommodation and provide employment in the company’s broader business and partners, supporting their journey back into society where they belong. After 12 months another 20 residents will be welcomed into the village.

Social Bite founder Josh Littlejohn says: "The Social Bite Village plan hopes to create a full circle solution to the issue of homelessness - from housing to support to employment.

"In doing so we hope to alter the course of some of Scotland’s most vulnerable people for the better - swapping a destiny of poverty and exclusion for one of compassionate support and inclusion."

According to City of Edinburgh Council it currently costs an average of £47 per night to put someone up in a homelessness B&B adding up to £17,155 per person per year.

By housing 20 homeless people, the Social Bite Village will save City of Edinburgh Council almost £200,000 a year.

"I’m not for a minute saying that Social Bite alone will eradicate homelessness or anywhere close to that. But we can create a blueprint," continues Josh.

"Working alongside other homelessness charities, we can help end the vicious cycle of homelessness for the individuals that we work with."

The structures will be based on the highly-insulated modular ‘NestHouse’ developed by Jonathan Avery and his Linlithgow company Tiny House Scotland.

The energy efficient, eco-friendly, sustainable houses will contain two bedrooms, a shared WC with shower, a lounge area and a small food preparation area. Construction costs for each house is expected to be approximately £30,000.

Councillor  Gavin Barrie, Chair of EDI Group, said: "As part of our commitment as a responsible developer, EDI actively explore temporary worthwhile uses for our land prior to development.

"The proposals put forward by Social Bite will have a meaningful and positive impact on those using the Social Bite Village.

"The recent decision of the EDI Board, to retain the walled garden for the purpose of a community garden, was the result of working closely with the local community to find the best long-term use for the garden and one that fitted with our own aspirations for Granton.

"By continuing to work with the local community and with Social Bite, we can achieve both and we look forward to continuing this partnership and bringing forward the regeneration of Granton."

Housebuilder Mactaggart and Mickel will assist in the build by providing expertise on all of the technical aspects and SP Energy Networks staff will volunteer their services for the design and installation of the electrical network.

Charity partners include Cyrenians and Streetwork who will support in areas including employability, food growth and focus on specific needs of individual residents.

Councillor Joan Griffiths, Vice Convenor of City of Edinburgh Council said: "Tackling homelessness remains a priority for the Council and we work closely with our third sector partners to provide services for people who are homeless.

"Josh and the Social Bite team do so much good work for homeless people across the city already and we look forward to working with them on their plans going forward."

Local MSP for the area, Ben Macpherson MSP (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) added: "Social Bite makes a big difference every day and the Social Bite Village initiative will expand on that success.

"I’ve been assisting Josh Littlejohn with the Village project for a few months now and it’s great to see it really moving forward.

"The Social Bite Village can be a catalyst for wider change and stimulate other community initiatives, local investment and creative projects in North Edinburgh and beyond, and I very much welcome that."