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Housing

Social Bite’s village for homeless people has launched

The communal living space will help 20 people at a time take a step towards permanent accommodation

Scottish social enterprise Social Bite has opened its pioneering village for homeless people.

The sandwich shop marked the end of the 10-month process to build 11 two-bedroom NestHouse homes in Grafton, Edinburgh, that will offer a stable and supported way of living to 20 residents at a time for a period of 12 to 18 months.

It is hoped that the project, which was funded in part by the 8,000 people who took part in December’s Sleep Out event, is aiming to break the cycle of homelessness and provide pathways into employment and permanent housing.

Josh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of Social Bite, said: “There’s no one-size-fits all solution to homelessness and what we’re doing at the village is developing a viable alternative to the unsupported, substandard and expensive temporary accommodation models that are prevalent within the homelessness system such as hostels and B&Bs.

“The village wouldn’t be happening without the incredible support we’ve received every step of the way. Whether it is everyone who slept out for us over the last two years and raised funds, or the 100+ companies who have backed the construction of the village with pro-bono support – I am truly grateful.”

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The village was opened by the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance MSP. She said: “‎We have a shared ambition with Social Bite to see everyone with a warm and safe place to call home, alongside any support they may need.”

Designed by architect Jonathan Avery of Tiny House Scotland, the highly insulated, energy efficient and sustainable NestHouses each have two bedrooms, a shared WC with shower, a lounge area and a small kitchenette.

The village also houses a community hub – a communal building where residents can dine, socialise and work together, as well as receive personal support – and will stand for four years on land donated by the City of Edinburgh Council.

A dedicated five-strong support team from charity partner Cyrenians will be on-hand to support residents like Michael, who will move into his new home next month.

“I would like to participate in social life – I used to be a fitness instructor before I became homeless due to my anxiety and depression,” he said. “I would like to learn more social skills and be able to use them in the future.

“My dream is to obtain a degree and start working in a health care setting. I think community will be there to support me and I will be able to build my skills gradually in friendly surroundings and not feel anxious and rejected.”

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