Creating a full circle solution to homelessness
Social Bite opened a small Sandwich shop on Rose St in Edinburgh in 2012. They started employing people from the homeless community when a local Big Issue seller called Pete asked for a job. They then introduced a Pay it Forward service where customers could buy food in advance for the homeless. Fast forward to present day and they give away over 100,000 items of food and hot drinks per year and employ over 100 people, many of whom have struggled with homelessness.
They are now embarking on a project to provide an accomodation model for the homeless, creating an alternative to the sub-standard and ineffective temporary accomodation solutions that currently exist.
The Social Bite Village is a project that combines an innovative housing model, using vacant council owned land, along with a supported community environment. The project is entirely geared at breaking the cycle of homelessness and giving residents pathways into employment and permanent housing.
Their mission remains the same – to help solve the problem of homelessness in the communities in which they work. The ambition of their village project is to create a blueprint in tackling homelessness, working alongside other charities, the private sector and the state.
To end the cycle of homelessness they believe you need three things:
1. A home to live in.
2. Structured support to deal with underlying psychological and practical issues.
3. A job.
As Social Bite they started at the end point by giving homeless people jobs. Their plan now is to work backwards.
The Social Bite Village will create an innovative, low cost, safe living environment for up to 20 people for around 12 -18 months. During this time the residents will receive extensive support in a community environment, learn new skills and get their life back on track. Residents will also receive extensive work placements and employability support.
After 12-18 months, they will help transition the residents into permanent accommodation and provide pathways to mainstream employers, supporting their journey back into society where they belong. After 12-18 months another 20 resident’s will be welcomed into the village.
The residents will be people who are currently living in mostly unsupported temporary accommodation, shelters, and B&Bs. From Social Bites' experience, these people have very little hope or social intervention to help them break out of the cycle of homelessness and it costs councils a significant amount of money just to maintain the status quo.
They will not be taking in anyone with a present addiction issue or with dual diagnosis (mental health and addiction issues). The purpose of the Village is to offer the right support, living environment and opportunities for someone from a situation of homelessness to become an independent member of society.
By doing this, the ambition is to create a full circle solution to the issue of homelessness – from housing to support to employment. In doing so Social Bite 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. This in turn will provide a blueprint for addressing homelessness that if successful can be replicated either by other private individuals, other charities or governments in Scotland or further afield.
They do not believe that this is a one-stop solution for all of homelessness. But for a sub-set of the homeless population who have less complex-needs, do not have a present addiction issue, and are motivated by living in a community and achieving employment and independent living, they believe they can create a scalable solution.
Watch this 2 minute video:
Read more about the Social Bite project here.
Read more about the Nest Houses here.
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Geoff Knott, 25/09/2018