Blog: We look forward to seeing the innovative Social Bite Village go from strength to strength

By Kellie Anne Davidson, Inspector

I’m proud to say many of my colleagues here in the Care Inspectorate will be joining the estimated 12,000 people taking part in this year’s Sleep in the Park events across Scotland on Saturday. The social enterprise Social Bite is running events in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee to help raise money and call for an end to homelessness. Last year, 8,000 people joined the world’s largest sleep out in Princes Street Gardens to raise £4 million.

The money raised from the first sleep out event in 2016 was used to build the Social Bite Village in Granton, Edinburgh. The first of its kind in Scotland, the village is made up of 10 cottage-style houses and a community hub where residents socialise and meet support workers to help them move forward.

Making the village a reality was a long road for Social Bite that required hard work, ingenuity and a lot of determination. Dozens of private companies, community support groups and individuals donated their time, goods and equipment. Once construction was under way, the Social Bite team approached the Cyrenians to work in partnership to offer the care and support that the community members in the village would require. The Cyrenians have offered support to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless for the past 50 years and they were happy to become a part of such an innovative project.

I was delighted to be involved in helping to get this project up and running. The village was required to register with the Care Inspectorate as it operates as a housing support service. As part of the national registration team, I worked closely with the Cyrenians for a year to ensure that, given the innovative approach to the care they planned to offer, we were able to meet the criteria and get the project off the ground. I really enjoyed being involved in this very interesting and valuable piece of work.

The service welcomed its first residents in July 2018 and is already almost at capacity. We recently went back to visit the village and discuss how things had moved on. The service is going from strength to strength and they continue to stagger intake to allow everyone to get to know people and settle in.

People are expected to stay for 12-18 months by which time they should be able to move on to their own tenancies, where they can continue to receive support from the Cyrenians if required. The village has the opportunity to help support many people out of homelessness. It will give them not only the opportunity to learn or relearn life skills but also restore their self-esteem and help them make an active contribution to their community.

We look forward to seeing the community grow and strengthen over time. Good luck to everyone taking part in the amazing fundraising effort at Saturday’s Sleep in the Park.

If you would like to find out more, please visit Social Bite’s Sleep in the Park website.