A Place To Call Home

The People's Friend Special - - COOKERY -

Cam­paigner Josh Lit­tle­john speaks to Chris Cope about his in­no­va­tive new vil­lage in Ed­in­burgh, which gives home­less peo­ple a fresh start in life.

pi­o­neer­ing project.

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”.

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