George Clooney backs Edinburgh homeless charity
Hollywood icon and humanitarian George Clooney arrived in Scotland today and visited a social enterprise sandwich shop that trains, employs and feeds local homeless people.
Staff at Social Bite, which gives 100% of its profits to charity, recruits a quarter of its staff from homeless backgrounds, and runs a ‘suspended’ service where customers can pre-pay food for homeless people to claim later, welcomed Mr Clooney to their Rose Street shop in Edinburgh city centre.
While in the shop, the award-winning actor and director handed over a donation to buy local homeless people lunch, as well as tucking into a sandwich himself.
Josh Littlejohn, the social entrepreneur who co-founded Social Bite, said: “George is an incredible guy, someone who has achieved real global fame but thinks nothing of visiting a local sandwich shop to chat to the workers and discuss the issue of homelessness.
“He was delighted to spend time with some of our formerly homeless staff and hear the stories of how they have transformed their lives through full-time work. The fact that he not only sampled the food himself, but also pre-paid meals for homeless people to claim later made it extra special.”
One Social Bite staff member who met Mr Clooney was kitchen worker Sonny Murray (36), he said:
“Only two years ago I was living on the streets of Edinburgh with a heroin addiction and unable to even afford to eat. Today I’m in full-time employment, have an amazing family and I just made lunch for one of the biggest stars on the planet! George genuinely seems like a great guy and it was a really special moment when he came into Social Bite to see what it is all about.”
Josh Littlejohn and business partner Alice Thompson set up Social Bite in 2012 after being inspired by meeting Nobel Peace Prize winner and Microcredit pioneer, Professor Muhammad Yunus, during a trip to Bangladesh.
Social Bite aims to compete with big-name UK lunchtime regulars such as Starbucks, Costa, Pret a Manger and Subway, while existing for a purely social mission.
Its underlying social motivations are threefold – to generate a surplus profit to give away to good causes, to feed the local homeless community, and to employ one in four of its workforce from homeless backgrounds.
Social Bite now has seven outlets and spans every major city in Scotland. The founders have plans to expand throughout the UK and potentially overseas with a ‘social franchise’ that will retain the integrity of their social business model.
Social Bite’s corporate catering arm has become Scotland’s largest independent corporate caterer, serving business breakfasts and boardroom lunches to a host of top firms including Deloitte, JP Morgan and PwC.
Following his visit to Social Bite, Mr Clooney is due to appear at the Scottish Business Awards, a non-profit event formed by Josh Littlejohn to celebrate high performing Scottish businesses and raise money for good causes. Proceeds from the sell-out dinner in Edinburgh’s EICC will be distributed among Social Bite’s chosen charities and Mr Clooney’s own charity, Not On Our Watch.