Social Bite partner with Sir Chris Hoy to build two new villages to help homeless

Homelessness charity Social Bite, with the support of six-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy, has today announced its latest fundraising campaign Break the Cycle – a 60 mile charity bike ride which aims to raise £1million to help build Social Bite Villages in two new UK cities.

The Break the Cycle event will take place on Sunday September 5, with Sir Chris joining 1,000 fellow cyclists as they set off from the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow and pedal the 60 miles through to the finish line in Edinburgh, near the flagship Social Bite village in Granton.

Each participant will be asked to raise £1,000 in order to take part and ride alongside the world champion cyclist, contributing to the overall fundraising target. All entrants will also have access to some incredible prizes, from naming a house at one of the villages to winning a signed medal from Sir Chris Hoy himself.

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As well as the physical event in September, the fundraising campaign is open to all levels of fitness and ability, with people across the UK invited to take part in their own virtual challenges from March to September to raise money and help Social Bite break the cycle of homelessness.

On Wednesday Sir Chris Hoy visited Social Bite's first village in Granton, Edinburgh, with the charity's founder Josh Littlejohn, to launch the Break the Cycle campaign and meet the people who run the village day to day.

Friends, families, workplace teams and schools are all encouraged to pick a challenge and get sponsored for doing it. Whether it’s a 60-mile challenge or 60 minutes of exercise, the virtual challenge can be designed to fit what suits people best.

Josh Littlejohn MBE, CEO and co-founder of Social Bite, said: “It’s an honour for us to have one of the country’s biggest sporting heroes support us in our effort to build two new villages for people in a situation of homelessness. Sir Chris has been an advocate of the work we do for some time and when we came up with the Break the Cycle concept, we knew there was only one person we wanted to partner with.

“We’re incredibly passionate about our plans for the Social Bite villages. Since opening the first one in Edinburgh, 39 people have been helped with a home and support through the project. Now that we have seen that the model is working, our ambition is to build more in cities across the country and I’m thrilled to announce that this is our intention in London and Glasgow.”

Money raised both on event day and in the lead up through virtual challenges will go towards creating the two highly supported communities with the help of engineering firm Arup.

The two new villages are planned to be in Glasgow and London and will look like the charity's first village project in Edinburgh

The new villages will offer a supportive community environment and opportunities to help people affected by homelessness build an independent life.

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The goal of the Social Bite villages is to provide a different blueprint for how we, as a society, respond to homelessness and temporary accommodation - one which puts support and the individual at the centre of the approach. The village concept is supported by Dame Louise Casey, the former Westminster homelessness tsar who led the work with helping 33,000 people into emergency housing during the pandemic.

Of the funds raised through Break the Cycle, ten per cent will also be donated to SAMH, the Scottish Association for Mental Health and further funds will be invested in Social Bite’s mission to Break the Cycle of homelessness by providing food, employment opportunities, and housing projects.

Sir Chris Hoy said: “I have supported Social Bite by sleeping under the stars each year at their mass participation sleepout events for the last four years. I have seen the impact of the funds raised and I am passionate about supporting the bold approach to breaking the cycle of homelessness.

“I know times have been incredibly tough of late but I’d encourage everyone to get involved and help raise the funds needed for this extraordinary project and take on their own challenges over the coming weeks and months. I look forward to seeing those taking part at the starting line…”

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Steven McKechnie, Director at Arup, said: “Our society can be a challenging place for those who don’t fit neatly into its expectations and norms. Social Bite’s ‘villages’ provide a route into society for some of those people.

“We, in Arup, are tremendously proud to have been asked to help with this magnificent project. We will be contributing ideas and design thinking and will be connecting with our contacts in local authorities, development firms and public bodies to help to select suitable sites.”

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