Social Bite sandwich shop chain gets £550,000 lottery boost
A sandwich shop chain that helps the homeless has received a £550,000 in lottery funding to expand its work.
Social Bite, which has cafes in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, employs and supports homeless people and 100% of its profits go to charity.
The cash will go towards running the Social Bite Academy, which supports the business model of employing a quarter of its staff from homeless backgrounds.
It is the biggest award made to the chain since it was set up in 2012.
The Big Lottery Fund money will also go towards extending opening hours to feed more homeless people.
The academy will offer a paid four-year course aimed at breaking the cycle of homelessness by providing support ranging from social integration, housing help, skills training and work experience, with each student gaining paid employment in Social Bite or a commercial partner.
Social Bite was in the spotlight in November last year when Hollywood star George Clooney paid a visit to the Edinburgh Rose Street branch to launch an appeal to help the homeless and fund an aid convoy to refugee camps across Europe.
In June, the Duchess of Cornwall visited the shop, and staff are also expected to welcome Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio later this year.
Maureen McGinn, chair of Big Lottery Fund Scotland, said the money would be "life-changing", and said it was a "truly innovative project which transforms life chances."
Josh Littlejohn, one of the chain's founders, said the funding will be a "boost" for the business and the people it helps.
He said he hoped the money would improve their system and allow them to get more people off the streets and into employment.
Social Bite is an not-for-profit enterprise, which was set up in 2012.