Social Bite worker who was once homeless himself, pays it back with £4,000 donation to Edinburgh charity Streetwork

An Edinburgh Social Bite shop worker has come to the aid of homeless charity Streetwork – nearly ten years after it helped him off the streets.

Sonny Murray, from Edinburgh, who works for not-for-profit sandwich chain Social Bite, has stepped in after discovering Streetwork’s council funding had been cut by £200,000.

The decision was especially poignant for Sonny as he had experienced the devastation of homelessness and drug addiction before being hired by social enterprise Social Bite two years ago.

Sonny has since risen through the ranks of Social Bite which ploughs 100 per cent of its profits into charity and where a quarter of the workforce is formerly homeless.

He approached Social Bite founder Josh Littlejohn who agreed to donate an initial £4,000 from September’s profits to Streetwork with a commitment to donate more in coming months.

He said: “It makes me proud to do something to help Streetwork because they’ve helped me loads. It’s Social Bite’s money and we’ve all worked to earn that.

“This is about enabling homeless people to help raise money to help other homeless people.”

Sonny was helped into housing in 2006 by Streetwork which works with around 4,000 homeless people a year across Scotland’s capital, bringing safety, shelter and security into their lives.

But the charity has had to change services for vulnerable homeless people after seeing its council funding reduced by 13.5 per cent in June this year.

Streetwork’s CEO Kenny Forsyth said: “We understand the council’s position and the funding issues that result from ongoing public sector austerity.

“That is why we are delighted to develop relationships with the private sector to support funds to help us update the Crisis Centre and hopefully bring back our 24hour service.

“This donation from Social Bite was a really welcome surprise and we’d like to thank Sonny for thinking of us.”

Sonny – who works in Social Bite’s Rose Street café in Edinburgh – has told how crucial services provided by the charity are being forced to stop through lack of funding.

Sonny said: “When I was homeless I went to Streetwork. They gave me an appointment to look at hostels and bed and breakfasts and eventually got me into a hostel.

“The amount of things they do for the homeless people is unbelievable. It’s an in valuable service.”

He added: “There are a lot of really important services that Streetwork are having to cut back on. When I used to go they had the night shelter from about 11pm.

“You’d go in and they’d give you a cup of tea and some dinner and you’d get a wee mat to sleep on the floor but they’ve done away with that.

“They still had a chef during the day so you could come in and get your lunch but now that’s gone too.

“A lot of people rely on this charity and wouldn’t be able to turn their lives around without it.”

Streetwork has said they are using the £4k donation to spearhead a bigger appeal to fund the renovation of its Edinburgh crisis centre.

Social Bite operates a ‘suspended’ coffee and food programme which allows customers can pay for a hot drink or food for a homeless person.

The business donates profits to a range of charities including Shelter Scotland, Vision Eye Care Hospital in Bangladesh, the MicroLoan Foundation in Malawi and Zambia and the STV Appeal.

• For more information visit http://www.social-bite.co.uk and http://www.streetwork.org.uk.

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