Scotland’s first homeless village will not deteriorate into a “ghetto”, its creator has insisted while admitting the radical plan “might not work”.

The settlement of 10 two-bedroom homes in Granton is expected to welcome its first tenants later this year. Josh Littlejohn, founder of Social Bite, said homeless people in the new community would be well supported.

"We will have five full time workers there 24/7 and will be linking with Edinburgh college and mainstream employers to get people work placements.

"It will be community focused and highly supported. It might not work, but it is up to us to demonstrate it can," he said.

Mr Littlejohn was speaking as the charity prepares to welcome Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle today (Tues) as part of their visit to Edinburgh.

The couple will visit Social Bite's cafe, which employs homeless people and asks customers to "pay it forward", paying extra to buy food for those who can't afford their own.

The royal couple will be the latest in a string of celebrity visitors to the charity. Leonardo di Caprio stopped for lunch at Social Bite's restaurant Home in Edinburgh's west end in November 2016, while the Duchess of Cornwall and George Clooney have been to Social Bite's Rose Street cafe.


Mr Littlejohn said homeless Scots should be given a permanent residence rather than live in “degrading and isolating” hostels where addictions or mental health problems fester.

He said the Granton village was an attempt to forge a different approach.

"If people going into hostels haven't got an addiction they develop one, if they have an addiction or a mental health problem already, it gets worse," he said.

Social bite has also struck a deal with housing providers in Edinburgh and Glasgow to test the benefit of putting people straight into a mainstream tenancy with support.

Littlejohn believes this will save money which can be used to fund more support, and homeless hostels and other temporary accommodation should be phased out.

"At present, people deteriorate, but the cost to the police, health and jail budgets as well as the cost to the individuals themselves is written off.

"We should give them the keys to a house and the right support. The difficult thing is to dual-fund two systems until it becomes mainstream."

Social Bite commissioned research from Heriot Watt university which unequivocally demonstrates a "housing first" strategy will work, he says.

"The findings echoed the voices of almost everyone I ever speak to. The academics said: 'don't ask us to do more research - it works'."

Littlejohn will be investing money raised during a sleepout in December to rapidly rehouse homeless people, in partnership with Edinburgh's EdIndex network, and Glasgow's Wheatley Group.

But he is calling for Government and local councils to collaborate in a "wholesale transformation" of services, adding: "We can't do it on our own."