Big Issue Vendor

Social Bite raises nearly £30,000 in a day to fight COVID-19 food poverty

Hospitality businesses everywhere are having to adapt, fast, if they want to survive the coronavirus crisis. Social Bite is pledging to deliver food to those in need across Scotland for as long as it takes

The public is showing support for homelessness-tackling social enterprise Social Bite by digging into their wallets – and have donated nearly £30,000 in a day.

After the COVID-19 outbreak forced the closure of its five cafes, co-founder Josh Littlejohn announced that he will be repurposing the operation to work as a nationwide food delivery service and opened up an online fundraiser.

The cafes offer free food to those who need it and employ people who have experienced homelessness themselves. The closures, Littlejohn said, don’t only threaten the livelihoods of staff but put at risk the vulnerable people who rely on food from the cafes.

From today Social Bite – operating in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen – will re-deploy its teams to produce and deliver food to homeless people, families who were relying on free school meals, refugees and asylum seekers plus anyone plunged into food poverty by redundancy resulting from the coronavirus crisis.

The co-founder said a combination of public and government support could make it possible for the social enterprise to get 3,000 food packs out to those in poverty “for as long as is needed”.

Littlejohn said: “Like with every hospitality business all over the world the coronavirus outbreak has put Social Bite’s future into great uncertainty.

“The homeless and vulnerable people we support on a daily basis will be the worst affected by this crisis. Imagine being homeless, having no option to self isolate or stock up on supplies, with many support services you were relying on closing down.

“We thought long and hard about how to respond to this to best help these people in desperate need, whilst trying to minimise staff redundancies and protect the future of Social Bite.”

The team set a target of £100,000 on a JustGiving page and looks set to smash their goal after people 650 supporters contributed £29,000 in 24 hours.

The Big Issue previously teamed up with Social Bite on the World’s Big Sleep Out event.