Housing

Social Bite's homeless village could be a 'blueprint' for rest of the UK

Co-founder Josh Littlejohn revealed that there has been interest in replicating the pioneering project in Aberdeen, Manchester and Sheffield

Social Bite village

Six months ago, just before the first Social Bite residents were about to move into the social enterprise’s village, co-founder Josh Littlejohn told The Big Issue that it felt like “there was no appetite for innovation” in the homelessness sector.

Now, the 11 cottage-style houses are almost at capacity with 17 formerly homeless people staying in Granton, Edinburgh, while they transition back into mainstream society and permanent accommodation.

And that has already seen the project turn heads – representatives from Aberdeen, Manchester and Sheffield have already enquired about how they can use the village as a “blueprint” for their own homelessness services.

It’s not just about the housing, the village also includes a community hub where residents can socialise and meet support workers from homelessness charity partner Cyrenians.

Littlejohn this week told The Scotsman that the “true test” of success for the project will come when that transition into stable housing is complete.

The news that five residents have secured paid employment while five more have taken on courses at the Open University and Edinburgh College will be key to ensuring that move is a smooth one.

The village was funded in part by last year’s Sleep in the Park event when 8,000 people bedded down in Edinburgh’s Princess Street Gardens in the world’s biggest charity sleep-out.

It will return again next month, this time expanded to 12,000 people across four Scottish cities to raise £4million in a bid to end homelessness in the country for good.

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