Social Bite’s Edinburgh homeless village to be built by Christmas

A prototype of the type of housing will be on show at St Andrew Square during the Festival. Picture: PA
A prototype of the type of housing will be on show at St Andrew Square during the Festival. Picture: PA
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Ground has been cut in Granton for a unique village designed to help homeless people break from the cycle of temporary housing.

The Social Bite Village will consist of 10 two-bedroom homes for those struggling with homelessness and organisers say they aim to have it up and running by Christmas.

The village is only a small part of a much bigger answer required to end homelesness.

Josh Littlejohn

The transportable houses are under construction after more than 300 of Scotland’s most influential people, including Olympian Sir Chris Hoy, slept rough overnight last December to raise the £500,000 needed for the project.

The village will be built on a 1.5-acre site of vacant council land which has been given to Social Bite on a “meanwhile use” basis, meaning it can be used until the land needs to be developed.

As well as the 10 homes, the village will have a communal building where residents can eat together, socialise, work, learn and receive support.

Josh Littlejohn, co-founder of Social Bite, a sandwich chain which supports and employs homeless people, said: “We’re so pleased that the Social Bite village will be up and running this year and we’re edging closer and closer to creating what we believe can be an effective alternative to a broken temporary accommodation system for people struggling with homelessness.

“Only seven months ago we experienced an incredible night with some of the country’s most successful and influential people taking part in our CEO Sleep Out to raise the money that would turn this from a nice idea into a reality and make a real impact to people who need our help.

“Now we’re about to break ground on the site and the first house will be displayed in St Andrews Square throughout August for anyone to come and see.”

Mr Littlejohn added: “The end result will be an inclusive, compassionate community that will provide a vital support network to people who are ready to be helped back into society.

“The village is only a small part of a much bigger answer required to end homelessness but it could be a blueprint for how social enterprise, charity, council and corporates work together on a solution that makes a difference.”

Social Bite’s main charity partner on the project is Cyrenians.

Residents - who will be made up of those living in unsupported temporary accommodation, shelters, hostels and B&Bs - will have a dedicated support team from Social Bite and Cyrenians to help them transition into permanent accommodation and employment.

The village will provide a safe living environment for up to 20 people from a homeless background for around 12 months at a time.

Welcoming news that work at the site has begun, Ewan Aitken, chief executive at Cyrenians, said: “Through participation in the Social Bite Village we’ll support residents to build and nurture their relationships, find employment, to manage their money and once they move on, to maintain a tenancy.”

The homes have been designed by architect Jonathan Avery of Tiny House Scotland.

They are being manufactured by Carbon Dynamics.

newsen@edinburghnews.com