Social Bite’s Village project has launched today after ten months of building and two years of planning.
The Social Bite Village uses vacant land donated by City of Edinburgh Council to provide a communal way of living for 20 people at a time, acting as a stepping stone to permanent accommodation.
The strategy aims to break the cycle of homelessness, giving community members pathways into employment, and offering an alternative to existing forms of temporary accommodation.
In February the Social Enterprise launched the UK’s largest “Housing First” program, which will help rough sleepers into mainstream flats in five cities with a wraparound support. The Village project - combined with the Housing First Program - hopes to help over 800 homeless people off the streets and temporary accommodation into housing with support over the next 18 months.
Josh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of Social Bite, said: “I am so thrilled to see the project reach completion and it has only happened due to the support of literally thousands of people and hundreds of organisations. There’s no one-size-fits all solution to homelessness and what we’re doing at the Village is developing a viable alternative to the unsupported, substandard and expensive temporary accommodation models that are prevalent within the homelessness system such as hostels and B&Bs.
“The project has utilised vacant council owned land with a beautiful pre-fabricated house design to create a bespoke community environment. When the first residents arrive next month, they’ll become part of a safe, positive and supported community. The Village’s on-site support staff, led by the Cyrenians, will encourage people to support each other towards a happier, healthier future in a place of belonging, security and hope.
“The Village wouldn’t be happening without the incredible support we’ve received every step of the way. Whether it is everyone who slept out for us over the last two years and raised funds, or the 100+ companies who have backed the construction of the Village with pro-bono support – I am truly grateful. Special thanks must go to Cruden Homes and Gill Henry for directing the overall project, Cornhill Building Services for dealing with the day to day build and Itison for their continued fundraising support.”
The Village was opened by Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance. She said: "We have a shared ambition with Social Bite to see everyone with a warm and safe place to call home, alongside any support they may need.
“Social Bite has done a huge amount of work to raise awareness of homelessness and directly tackle the issues, as today’s innovative initiative shows. Our Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, of which Josh Littlejohn is a member, is making important recommendations on how to eradicate rough sleeping and end homelessness.
“Building on the good work that is already happening, the work of the Action Group and with our £50m investment, we have a great opportunity to go further and faster to reduce homelessness and ensure support for people in the right place, at the right time.”
Residents will be people who are currently living in unsupported temporary accommodation who need help in breaking out of the cycle of homelessness. At the end of their time at the Village, residents will be supported in making the transition to permanent accommodation and employment. A further 20 residents will then be welcomed to the Village.
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