SOCIAL Bite, the internationally renowned homeless charity, has revealed it has chosen Dundee as the location for its next major project.
With the support of The WM Sword Charitable Trust, the charity is to build a brand-new Social Bite Recovery Village in Dundee. The project will be tailored to provide accommodation and recovery support for vulnerable people struggling with addiction in Dundee and other Scottish local authorities.
Following the huge success of the Social Bite Village in Edinburgh, this Recovery Village will expand the focus from exclusively homelessness to supporting a range of vulnerable people struggling with addiction. It will house a state-of-the-art recovery facility and residents of the village will also be supported by on site staff and a local network of resources dedicated to helping people with addiction. Social Bite are working in partnership with addiction specialist charity We Are With You to develop a tailored support model for the village that works for the needs of people in Dundee.
The accommodation at the Dundee project will be 15 eco-friendly prefabricated ‘nest houses’ with a bedroom, kitchen, lounge area and storage, alongside a community hub complete with communal dining space, gym facilities and counselling rooms. Bespoke individual residential units will be constructed to create a secure and private community environment and everyone who is given a place in the village will be supported through the process to find permanent accommodation as part of their recovery, should that be required.
Josh Littlejohn MBE, founder of Social Bite said: “This is an incredibly exciting project for Social Bite and for Dundee. It has been amazing to collaborate with the local community on developing something that will meet a great need in the city.
“We all know the problem with drug deaths in Scotland and Dundee over the years. The human toll is profound. Behind each statistic lies individual and familial suffering with communities losing loved ones. Deprivation exacerbates the crisis, with those in the poorest areas 16 times more likely to die from drug misuse. The Recovery Village will help people on their journey towards recovery by providing a safe and rehabilitative living environment and expert support.
“Everyone we have spoken to in Dundee about the project has been hugely supportive and we are delighted to see that the city is taking the international lead on what could become a pioneering model for tackling addiction amongst vulnerable people.”
Social Bite is in discussion with Dundee City Council on a site for the project and expects to be able to submit a full planning application before the end of the year.
The WM Sword Charitable Trust has made a £1.5million pledge towards the project in memory of the benefactor of the trust, the late Bill Sword, a well know entrepreneur in Dundee. The Insights Foundation is also generously backing the project with £100,000 of additional support.
Lynne Henderson, Trustee of The WM Sword Charitable Trust, said: “The Trust has been looking for some time for a major project to support on top of the work we do on a smaller scale with dozens of charities in Tayside.
“The Recovery Village is a fantastic idea and the ambition and vision is something that we know the city will get behind and become proud of as it gets up and running.
“My father was incredibly proud of Dundee and he would have been delighted to know that the fruits of his many businesses were now going to help Dundonians at their time of greatest need.”
Andy Lothian, Group CEO of the Insights Group, who have pledged £100,000 towards the project said: “Having supported Social Bite for over a decade, The Insights Foundation are thrilled to support this new recovery village in Dundee, addressing one of the city’s most pressing needs. I would like encourage the business and philanthropic community to join ourselves and WM Sword in getting behind this vital initiative to create a world leading recovery facility for vulnerable people in our home city and I can’t wait to see it come to life.”
The funding pledges of £1.6M, alongside an additional £50,000 pledge from the Tay Charitable Trust will cover the majority of a £1.95M construction budget to enable the 15-unit project to be built and Social Bite is hoping that more businesses and individuals will come forward to support the project in Dundee and help to meet the full budget. The project will be launched officially today (November 1) at a reception at V&A Dundee.
The world-leading residential recovery facility will incorporate Social Bite’s values of community, dignity and high-quality design to meet a pressing local need.
One of the project’s major advocates is Chelsea Cameron, a Community Champion of Scotland, who has spent years fighting for change in the treatment of addiction. She wrote a forgiving open letter to her addict parents thanking them for showing her how not to live her life.
Chelsea said: “I know the devastation that addiction can cause to families and communities and I am delighted to support the Wm Sword Social Bite Recovery Village. It is a fantastic idea and something that will make a real difference.
“Social Bite have a great track record in innovative and effective programmes to help people who are among the most vulnerable in society and Dundee will benefit hugely from being the site of their next project. I wish we didn’t need it, but we do, and we should be proud to have it.”
In 2022 in Scotland, 1,051 people passed away from drug related deaths. This is the equivalent to almost three people dying every day and is by far the highest rate of any country in Europe, including the rest of Great Britain. Scotland’s drug death rate is still more than three times higher than the next worst affected European country. For the period 2018-2022, Glasgow City and Dundee City had the highest rate of drug misuse deaths with 44.4 deaths per 100,000 people in Glasgow, closely followed by 43.1 deaths per 100,000 people in Dundee City.
Social Bite have made eradicating homelessness in Scotland a goal and have worked with international celebrities including George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio and the Prince and Princess of Wales to highlight the work of their cafes and the Edinburgh homeless village.
The charity also organised nationwide sleep outs to raise money and to highlight the impact of sleeping rough in Scotland in the winter. Funds raised helped build the first Social Bite Village in Edinburgh and develop the Housing First Programme which provides secure tenancies for those with enduring homelessness and complex needs.