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Volunteer says charity ‘saved his life’ as coffee shop celebrates one year in Glasgow



The charity, which helps combat homelessness, has said this was made possible in part thanks to donations from more than 6000 people in Glasgow who chose to engage in the “pay it forward” programme in the last year.

READ MORE: Social Bite Scotland receive 1,000 coffees for Pay it Forward Day 

The Herald: Pictured: Social Bite volunteer Andy and Glasgow coffee shop manager Alastair Lindsay celebrate the occasionPictured: Social Bite volunteer Andy and Glasgow coffee shop manager Alastair Lindsay celebrate the occasion (Image: Jeff Holmes)

Commercial operations director at Social Bite, Mel Swan, said: “It’s been a fantastic first year for us so far.

“The kindness of Glaswegians has really blown us away.

“Often, they come in and pay it forward on their way to work, even before the shop is open.

“These donations help to provide support for vulnerable people and people experiencing homelessness.”

The Herald: Pictured: The Coffee Shop has launched a new Spring menuPictured: The Coffee Shop has launched a new Spring menu (Image: Jeff Holmes)

On the newly introduced spring menu at the shop is a selection of filled bagels, fresh salads and artisan baking.

READ MORE: The Glasgow cinema that is a ‘window on the world’ celebrates its 50th in style

Coffee lovers are also in for a treat with organic, Fairtrade triple-certified beans from renowned roaster Matthew Algie and all members of the shop’s team undergoing barista training at the Matthew Algie Coffee School to ensure the perfect beverage is served.

Every Wednesday from 4pm to 5pm the venue offers free sit-in suppers to provide vulnerable people or those experiencing homelessness with the opportunity to access support and socialise.

The Herald: (Social Bite volunteer Andy, cutting the first birthday cake(Social Bite volunteer Andy, cutting the first birthday cake (Image: Jeff Holmes)

Andy, a regular Social Bite volunteer since the Glasgow coffee shop opened, said of the first year: “Social Bite didn’t change my life, it saved my life.

“Now I try to do the same for others. As a volunteer, it’s all about the people coming through the door.

“It’s the joy that comes form the interaction and getting to know people.”

Social Bite started as a small sandwich shop on Rose Street in Edinburgh in August 2012 and has now grown to become a “major driving force” in helping to break the cycle of homelessness in Scotland and across the UK.

The charity employs people with a background of homelessness and has in the past received visits from Hollywood superstars Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney.

Last week, the Herald reported that approval had been granted for 15 modern, sustainable homes – known as Nest houses – to be built on a brownfield site on Harriet Street in Rutherglen under the auspices of Social Bite.

The Herald: Pictured: Social Bite founder Josh LittlejohnPictured: Social Bite founder Josh Littlejohn (Image: Social Bite)

READ MORE: Permission granted for homeless village in South Lanarkshire

Josh Littlejohn MBE, founder of Social Bite, said: “Our Social Bite Villages represent a pioneering approach to tackling homelessness in Scotland.

“By collaborating with the local community, South Lanarkshire Council, and our charity partners, this new village will establish a transformative model of accommodation that not only provides beautiful homes to live in, but also helps to break the cycle of homelessness for the individuals that will move in by giving people all the support they need.”

This comes after the charity opened a homeless village in Edinburgh in 2018, providing support for up to 20 people by giving them a place to sleep, helping them learn new skills and helping them with work and voluntary placements.

For more information, visit the Social Bite website here.

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