Residents will move into the innovative Social Bite village this weekend – a month after the launch of the long-awaited project.
Initially six tenants will head into the 11-home complex in Granton, Edinburgh, which was unveiled by departing Communities Secretary Angela Constance on May 17. But after the first arrivals move in on July 1, the aim is to fill the community to its 20-person capacity, for an average stay of 12-18 months.
Social Bite’s co-founder, Josh Littlejohn MBE, confirmed that, at first, this time period won’t be rigid – and they will give the villagers time to settle in and adapt to their new environment before moving back into wider society.
“There will be no fixed minimum or maximum stay at first, it will all depend on how long the person needs to transition into permanent accommodation,” he said.
Charity partner Cyrenians will also help residents achieve independency through their support staff on site. Cyrenians chief, Ewan Aitken, said: “When people apply, they apply to be part of a community, they’re not applying for a tenancy.
“Part of being here is hanging out together at the hub, taking care of the environment, cooking together, shopping together. And by looking after each other, the skills of looking after yourself and making change can happen.”
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
Village residents will also be given the chance to enrol into the local Edinburgh College, which offers a wide range of courses including glazing, carpentry, stone masonry and heritage construction skills.
Originally funded following by last year’s mass Edinburgh sleep-out Sleep in the Park, the running of the Social Bite village will be aided by this year’s expanded event. The 2018 iteration is taking place on the night of December 8, in Scotland’s four largest cities – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen.
Amy Macdonald and KT Tunstall are confirmed to play across all four cities, traveling on a helicopter donated for the night. Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh will offer up the event’s bed time story.
“Last year, 8,000 people took part in the world’s largest sleep out in Edinburgh, and raised an incredible £4m in the process,” said Littlejohn, who welcomed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to the social enterprise sandwich shop in February.
Everyone who gave up their beds for last year’s Sleep Out caused a sea change in Scotland’s fight against homelessness and have funded a raft of major projects, including a major Housing First initiative which is expected to take 800 rough sleepers off the streets by 2020.
“For Sleep in the Park 2018 we’re doing something that has never been done before – a simultaneous multi-city sleep out. We’re asking for 12,000 people in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee to keep the momentum going and raise £6m,” added Littlejohn.
“We were completely blown away by the thousands of people who joined this movement and supported Sleep in the Park last year. We want to build on this across the whole of Scotland. By organising these events locally, we will invest the funds so that homeless people in those cities are housed and given the support they need to get back on their feet.”