George Clooney Helps Christmas Campaign
14 December 2015, 12:14 | Updated: 14 December 2015, 12:16
Hollywood superstar George Clooney has helped launch a new fundraising campaign to feed thousands of homeless people on Christmas Day.
The actor visited Edinburgh last month after accepting an invitation from the owner of sandwich shop Social Bite, where he recorded a video message pledging the first #5 for the appeal.
While in the city, he met staff who were once homeless but now have jobs in the chain of shops which donates all its profits to charity.
The Christmas campaign also features a message of support from Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, with other pledges coming from Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, comedian Rob Brydon, broadcaster Chris Evans and Scotland football manager Gordon Strachan.
Bosses are hoping this year's drive will go a step further than the previous campaign, which raised enough to feed the homeless for a year across three cities.
Josh Littlejohn, Social Bite's co-founder, said: "Last year we asked the public to pay #5 to allow us to open on Christmas Day and give local homeless people a place to go for a good meal.
"Our target was to provide 800 meals. We were amazed by the response and received over 36,000 donations from all over the world meaning we not only fed folk at Christmas, we were able to feed them all year round in all five of our shops.
"When George visited our shop last month, we asked him to make the first donation and with such a global star on film supporting us, we're hoping we can smash last year's total and help even more people.''
A page has been set up on deals and events website itison.com where people can either pay £5 for the Christmas fund, or contribute the same amount towards a convoy of Social Bite vans which will leave on Boxing Day with food and winter essentials for refugee camps in Calais, on the Serbia/Croatia border, and Lesbos in Greece.
Mr Littlejohn added: "Our trip is about reaching out a hand of compassion, and letting them know Scotland cares. We don't know how many vans we'll fill but we'll take as many as we can with the donations we get.
"We've had amazing support from the outdoor clothing brand Trespass, who have agreed to match each donation we receive with hats, gloves, coats and tents to help combat the sub-zero temperatures the refugees will have to endure in the winter months.''
Social Bite operates a ''suspended'' coffee and food programme where customers can pay for a hot drink or food for a homeless person. A quarter of its workforce in the five shops across Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen is formerly homeless.