Social Bite launches jobs first initiative with UK’s largest employers

Social Bite has launched a pioneering initiative to help revolutionise the access people who have experienced homelessness have to job opportunities across the UK.

Social Bite launches jobs first initiative with UK's largest employers

George Watson

Through its new Jobs First programme, Social Bite will work directly with some of the UK’s biggest employers to help breakdown the barriers people who have been homeless face on their route to employment

To date, businesses including BaxterStorey, Mitchells & Butlers, Andron FM, have signed up with a plan to help create a target of 60 employment opportunities for people experiencing homelessness. The program is being part funded through a grant from the Oak Foundation.

The initiative, which guarantees living wage employment for each person, will provide wrap around support for both the employer and employee.

Each Jobs First employee will be allocated a support worker from Social Bite who will assist them throughout the programme and their employment contract, meeting weekly to offer practical support on bills and forms, as well as emotional guidance and confidence building to adapt to working life.

Social Bite will provide training to each employer to help them appropriately guide the employee while the support worker will help facilitate appraisal processes and employee progress.

As measures put in place in response to COVID-19 are wound down, it is feared that more people will experience homelessness with latest statistics released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) showing that many of these measures helped to reduce and prevent homelessness.

Data in London shows that between April and June this year, the number of people sleeping on the streets increased by 25 per cent, making Social Bite’s Jobs First initiative even more timely. Firms across the UK are also sounding the alarm over staff shortages, with Britain’s worst labour shortage in decades putting economic recovery from lockdown at risk.

George Watson kickstarted the programme today, taking on his role with hospitality provider BaxterStorey who supply Royal Bank’s Gogarburn headquarters in Edinburgh where Social Bite recently opened a café.

Social Bite launches jobs first initiative with UK's largest employers

Josh Littlejohn and George Watson

Josh Littlejohn MBE, CEO and co-founder of Social Bite, said: “Social Bite started life nine years ago by offering jobs in a small café to people who had experienced homelessness and over that time we have seen the power of employment to change lives.

“Too often, the response to people experiencing homelessness is to ‘get a job’ – however, it’s not that easy. Proactive employers stepping out of their comfort zone to provide chances for those who would otherwise be excluded and a wraparound support alongside the job are the solutions.

“That’s why the Jobs First programme is so important. We will match people who are excluded from the jobs market with some of the UK’s largest employers.

“The wrap around support we will provide will help both employers and employees enjoy a fruitful working partnership. At a time when the UK is facing a serious labour shortage, we are incredibly proud to be partnering with major employers to deliver a program of scale throughout the UK that can act as a blueprint for how we can provide employment opportunities for homeless and marginalised people.”

Over the past four years, Social Bite has supported 34 people into employment from a background of homelessness and in total, one quarter of its workforce has experienced homelessness.

Of the 34, many have moved into employment roles with other companies, some into higher education and in many cases, they have developed careers within Social Bite. These learnings have formed the basis for rolling out Jobs First across the UK.

Caroline Bacigalupo at BaxterStorey, operations manager, added: “Jobs First is a fantastic programme and we’re proud to be working with Social Bite to offer training and employment opportunities to people who were previously homeless.

“We’re all thrilled to welcome George on board and can’t wait to support other Jobs First employees reach their full potential as the programme develops.”

George Watson said: “Social Bite has been like my family for the past seven years. I am really excited to start my job role with BaxterStorey. I am grateful for the Jobs First programme and hope it will help many others into employment.”

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