Since it was set up in 2012 Social Bite has become a beacon of ambition in the fight against homelessness. It all started with a Sandwich Shop in Edinburgh’s Rose Street, a Social Business that gave all its profits to good causes. Within six years Social Bite employed 70 people through a chain of sandwich shops across Scotland and a food delivery service - all on a living wage. When more and more homeless people were drawn to their cafés, they at first offered them free food and hot drinks, then started employing them. But with the complexity of homelessness soon apparent to founders Josh Littlejohn and Alice Thompson, they raised their sights to the eradication of homelessness in Scotland’s four largest cities, commissioning Heriot-Watt University to set out a framework of action.
What they have achieved since then is extraordinary – raising many millions of pounds through its Sleep in the Park initiatives and bringing understanding of the plight of homelessness to people all over Scotland and beyond. They expanded their employment opportunities, deliver 140,000 items of healthy free food each year. They launched a weekly Social Supper event connecting 400 vulnerable people a week with food, support and opportunities. They also have Vesta, a top-of-the-range restaurant and bar which provides sit down meals for 40 people who suffer homelessness and food poverty and training opportunities for supported employees. They built and opened Social Bite Village in Edinburgh in 2018 and contribute much of their funds to Housing First Scotland. George Clooney, Leonardo di Caprio and Harry and Meghan are just some of the admiring visitors to the Social Bite café.