A Place To Call Home
Campaigner Josh Littlejohn speaks to Chris Cope about his innovative new village in Edinburgh, which gives homeless people a fresh start in life.
Its aim? To create a low-cost, safe living environment for up to 20 vulnerable people for around 12 to 18 months – taking them off the street t and giving them a support network to provide emotional help, new skills and work placements.
It’s all designed to provide them with the tools s for a safe return to society.
The village is the brainchild of Josh Littlejohn , who formed Social Bite with h Alice Thompson in 2012 to o give rough sleepers the opportunity to gain work in cafés in Scotland, with all profits going back into good causes.
He has seen the Social Bite brand mushroom since then, with everyone from George Clooney to Prince Harry popping into the Edinburgh café.
Josh received an MBE last year for services to social enterprise and entrepreneurship in Scotland.
The jewel in his crown, however, could be the Social Bite Village.
Working in conjunction with the City of Edinburgh Council, Josh has transformed surplus land into a mini community of innovative “NestHouses”, which feature two bedrooms and a shared living area.
Specially devised by designer Jonathan Avery and Tiny House Scotland, the cosy homes are energy efficient, eco-friendly and sustainable – and they look good, too.
“People seem to have settled in really well, and they are commenting on what an improvement it is from where they were before, which was some of the more traditional homelessness accommodation like hostels and B and Bs,” Josh said.
“You always worry there might be issues, but there’s been very little drama. Everyone has settled in nicely, and they seem to be engaging with the support available.
“We’ve partnered with a charity called the
Cyrenians, and we’re effectively funded by them to employ support staff on-site. There’s about five full-time support staff.
“There are external partnerships, too, such as the local college offering people the opportunity to get qualifications, and there are lots of local
The Social Bite Village was designed by Jonathan Avery.
The interior of one of the innovative “NestHouses”.