Social Enterprise Helping Those Suffering from Addiction

A new fast-food chain in Edinburgh city centre is aiming to take on regular favourites such as Greggs, Pret a Manger, and Eat. The sandwich bar is similar to other food outlets in the city centre and sells products such as soup, sandwiches, rolls, and wraps. However, this is a business with a difference. Social Bite’s staff is made up of at least twenty-five percent of individuals with hardly any work experience and who have had struggles with issues such as addiction and homelessness.

Many other companies would view this strategy as risky, but the owners of Social Bite say their not-for-profit business is designed to help those struggling with poverty.


Social Bite’s founders, Alice Thomson and Josh Littlejohn, visited Muhammad Yunus’s Bangladesh-based social business in 2011 and were inspired to create their own version. The pair admits they were keen to follow in the footsteps of Nobel Prize winner Yunus and decided to establish a sandwich shop from which profits would be donated to various charities. However, they also wanted to go that little bit further by helping more people that ‘needed a break’.

Natural Progression

The idea behind hiring individuals that have suffered with addiction or homelessness came when a man called Pete, who was selling the Big Issue outside their first shop, asked for a job. The pair decided to give Pete a chance and it progressed from there. When more positions became available, Thomson and Littlejohn asked Pete if he could recommend some friends who needed a job.

The system of referral works well for the business because the people they have working for them will not refer anyone they believe will be difficult to work with. They say that they only refer friends they believe are ready to get their lives back on track.


Social Bite now has four outlets across Scotland, with plans to double its outlets with another four across the UK. They currently employ fourteen ex-homeless individuals in various roles from customer service to catering to cooking. Although Littlejohn admits there have been a few teething problems, he says that things have generally been working well.

Star Endorsement

The Edinburgh shop is set to receive a superstar endorsement in November when Hollywood giant George Clooney comes to visit. The star has been impressed by the business venture’s social benefits and is even taking part in an online competition where a member of the public will win a private dinner him. The competition will require people to donate £5, and all proceeds will go to Social Bite and Clooney’s ‘Not On Our Watch’ charity that he co-founded with fellow superstars Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.

Hope for Sufferers of Addiction

Addiction affects many people across the UK and, unfortunately, a consequence of addiction is often homelessness. The difficulty for these people is that once they become homeless, it can be hard to get their lives back on track. However, with the help of organisations such as Social Bite, ex-homeless and ex-addicted people can make a positive change.

Recovery from addiction is possible with the right help and support. If you are suffering from addiction or love someone who is, it is important to get help as soon as possible. Addiction Helper is working hard across the UK to put clients in touch with suitable treatment providers.

It is our job to assess clients and to provide information on the various treatments available. We believe that with the right support, anyone can beat his or her addiction. For more information on our free services, call Addiction Helper today.


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