Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Thousands buy homeless Christmas meal voucher in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Josh Littlejohn Image copyright John Littlejohn
Image caption Josh Littlejohn (L) and Alice Thompson (second L) founded Social Bite two years ago

Thousands of Christmas meals have been bought for homeless people in Edinburgh and Glasgow after a sandwich shop made a plea for donations.

Social Bite, the chain of shops that gives 100% of its profits to charity and recruits people from homeless backgrounds, is to open at Christmas.

The chain has teamed up with daily deals website, Itison.com.

A donation of £5 will pre-pay for a meal at Christmas and a free coffee from Social Bite in the new year.

Co-founder Josh Littlejohn, 28, from Edinburgh, told the BBC Scotland news website he had hoped to sell 800 vouchers and could not believe he had sold about 7,000 in the first 10 hours of the promotion.

He said: "I think it is amazing that so many people have bought vouchers. Christmas is largely commercial with big businesses pushing sentimentality to sell products with people often spending more than they can afford.

"We have decided to open on Christmas Eve in Glasgow and on Christmas Day in Edinburgh to give a Christmas meal to every homeless person that comes into our shops.

"The Christmas spirit from people offering to volunteer or give donations has been overwhelming."

'Waiving all fees'

He added that any meal vouchers left over will be given to homeless people during the first few months of next year.

Itison.com is waiving all fees for the promotion, which runs for a week.

Social Bite will open its shop in St Vincent Street in Glasgow on Christmas Eve and the Rose Street shop in Edinburgh on Christmas Day.

The company, a social enterprise which aims to compete with Pret a Manger, Greggs and Subway, has committed to employing at least one in four of its staff from homeless backgrounds.

The firm currently employs more than 30 people, 12 of whom have been homeless.

Social Bite was founded two years ago by couple Josh Littlejohn and Alice Thompson, 24.

They were inspired by a visit to Bangladesh, where they met Nobel Peace Prize winner and microcredit pioneer Prof Muhammad Yunus.

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