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24 November 2016, 05:25
A sandwich shop chain which gives 100% of its profits to charity is to build a village for the homeless.
Social Bite, which has cafes in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, will construct 10 purpose-built houses in Granton, Edinburgh.
Social Bite Village will provide a low-cost, supervised and safe living environment for up to 20 homeless people for around 12 months each.
The scheme will save the council almost £200,000 a year, with the current average cost per homeless person in the city being more than £17,000 for B&B accommodation.
In partnership with the EDI Group and the City of Edinburgh Council, work is expected to begin in early 2017 with the first residents moving in by the summer.
Last week, movie star Leonardo DiCaprio stopped for lunch at Social Bite venture Home in Edinburgh's west end before delivering an address at the Scottish Business Awards.
His visit followed that of Hollywood star George Clooney to Social Bite's Rose Street branch, where he launched an appeal to help the homeless and fund an aid convoy to refugee camps in Europe.
The social enterprise is to work with the council and homeless charities to identify suitable residents for the village, who will live in a managed environment where they can learn new skills and get their life back on track.
After 12 months, the charity will help transition the residents into permanent accommodation and provide employment in the company's broader business and partners, supporting their journey back into society.
The structures in the village will be based on the highly-insulated NestHouse and will be transportable should the EDI Group wish to develop the land on the Granton site in future.
The energy-efficient and eco-friendly houses will contain two bedrooms, a shared bathroom, a lounge area and a small food preparation area. They will cost £30,000 each to construct.
Josh Littlejohn, Social Bite co-founder, said: "The Social Bite Village plan hopes to create a full circle solution to the issue of homelessness - from housing to support to employment.
"In doing so we hope to alter the course of some of Scotland's most vulnerable people for the better - swapping a destiny of poverty and exclusion for one of compassionate support and inclusion.
"I'm not for a minute saying that Social Bite alone will eradicate homelessness or anywhere close to that, but we can create a blueprint.
"Working alongside other homelessness charities, we can help end the vicious cycle of homelessness for the individuals that we work with.''
Councillor Gavin Barrie, chair of the EDI Group, said: "As part of our commitment as a responsible developer, EDI actively explore temporary worthwhile uses for our land prior to development.
"The proposals put forward by Social Bite will have a meaningful and positive impact on those using the Social Bite Village.''