Social Bite sleep-out will pay for 600 homes for rough sleepers

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FEARLESS fundraisers braving freezing weather in the world’s biggest sleep-out have helped rescue 600 rough sleepers from the streets.

Celebrity-backed charity Social Bite has announced that 600 homes will be largely funded by £3 million of the money raised from December’s Sleep in the Park.

Martin Armstrong, chief executive of Wheatley Housing Group, Josh Littlejohn and Suzanne Fitzpatrick of Heriot Watt University launch the 600 Homes project, Picture: Steve Welsh

Martin Armstrong, chief executive of Wheatley Housing Group, Josh Littlejohn and Suzanne Fitzpatrick of Heriot Watt University launch the 600 Homes project, Picture: Steve Welsh

Some 8,000 hardy souls were joined by Sir Bob Geldof in the Princes Street Gardens event that raised about £4m in total.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Tackling homelessness is a key priority for the Scottish Government.

“That is why we have set up the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, which includes Social Bite, to recommend the action needed to tackle the issue, backed by £50m to drive change.

“That includes development of the Housing First model, which has shown great results so far.

“The work of Social Bite has an important part to play in meeting our shared commitment to ensure vulnerable people can escape the dangers and uncertainties of homelessness, ensuring they have a warm and safe place to call home.”

The 600 Homes campaign follows the Housing First model, which involves giving people a secure home, helping them keep their tenancy and reintegrate into society.

Social Bite will invest £1.5m into funding the support costs over the first 12 months and then plans to invest a further £1.5m over the following year, alongside other funders.

The social enterprise will also seek to work with the Scottish Government and local authorities to try to ensure funding for this “wrap around” support is ultimately mainstream.

Five hundred properties have been offered in Edinburgh by the city council, along with more in Dundee and Glasgow.

The first homes will become available in spring with roughly 33 properties per month being released each month up to September 2019.

Founded in Rose Street, Social Bite runs a chain of social enterprise cafés, employing staff who have experienced homelessness themselves.

Prince Harry and fiancée Meghan Markle were the latest high-profile visitors to the sandwich shop on their first Scottish trip last week.

Hollywood stars Leonardo di Caprio and George Clooney have also previously popped in, as has the Duchess of Cornwall.

Josh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of Social Bite, said: “Our plan is to start placing people that are currently sleeping rough and in hostels or other temporary accommodation into this mainstream housing this spring.

“We will now seek to work alongside other funders and The Scottish Government to ensure that the ambitious scale of this Housing First programme can be realised and that it can help lead to a significant structural change in how homelessness is dealt with in Scotland.

“All involved believe that this can be a major step in dealing with the homelessness issue here.”