The Social Bite Village

Edinburgh, Scotland Human Resources, Land use, Local social sustainability, Relations to stakeholders, Target groups of housing
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Description

The Social Bite Village is an innovative, highly supported community for up to 20 people affected by homelessness. The purpose of the Village is to offer the right support, living environment and opportunities for someone from a situation of homelessness to build an independent life.The idea for Social Bite Village came out of conversations Social Bite had with people supported by and employed in our social enterprises, who had experience of living in temporary accommodation. They told us that B&B accommodation does not provide a suitable platform for people to escape from homelessness so we took action.

Context

Homelessness is a major segment of Edinburgh’s housing landscape, with around 3000 people are currently in temporary accommodation. The city has particularly embedded reliance on private B&Bs, which, we know from lived experience, limit opportunities to establish a decent life.

Issues tackled

The overall ambition is to create a full circle solution to the issue of homelessness – from housing 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. This, in turn, will provide a blueprint for addressing homelessness that can be replicated either by other private individuals, other charities or governments in Scotland or further afield.

We do not believe this is a one-stop solution for all homelessness, but for a subset of the homeless population who have fewer complex-needs, do not have a present addiction issue, and are motivated by living in a community and achieving employment and independent living. We believe we can create a scalable solution.

Actors involved

  • Hillcrest Housing Association
  • Cyrenians
  • Edinburgh College
  • Open University Edinburgh

Results

The Social Bite Village is a transitory space, not a permanent home, with residednts supported to move into mainstream tenancies, employment and education. The Village is made up of 10 ‘Nest Houses’ – each shared by two residents plus an additional unit for staff. There is also a large, central Community Hub, which is the focus of community life – where residents can cook, eat and socialise together. The Hub is also the base for much of our training and support activities. After 12-18 months, the project supports residents into permanent accommodation and support them to make this transition ‘stick’. As each person moves on, a new Community Member will join to be supported and mentored by their fellow community members. It welcomes people trapped in temporary acommodation and offers a supportive base of operations to break the cycle of homelessness. The 20 community members at the Village arrived through self-referral and partnerships with other organisations and have all lived in temporary accommodation.

Why it works

Residents are supported to apply for housing benefit and/or attain employment, which facilitates the payment of rent. We are aiming to achieve 80% of the Village’s financing through rent payments, fundraising for the shortfall through a variety of means. Social Bite continues to contribute a yearly fund to the Village, ensuring a robust level of support for residents. Under the terms of the lease with the city council, we do not pay any rent or council tax. However, Social Bite does not own the land and can be required to leave the site after 4 years. Therefore, we had to design aspirational housing that could be transported to new site.

1 in 3 staff members has direct lived experience of homelessness

 

 

Scale

local

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