A thousand coffees have been donated to a Scottish social enterprise, who say the power of conversation stirred up over a hot drink has the potential to save lives.

This Sunday marks Pay it Forward Day – a global initiative which provides food and hot drinks to people experiencing homelessness.

Ahead of that, leading Scottish coffee roaster Matthew Algie has donated 1,000 coffees to the scheme that has teamed up with Social Bite - one of Scotland’s most prominent homelessness charities.

Now, a support worker at Social Bite has highlighted the ‘life-saving’ potential of conversation for some of the nation’s most vulnerable people.

Euan Brock, a support and development worker at Social Bite, was speaking after Matthew Algie donated more than 1,000 coffees to mark the global event. 

He said: “The Pay it Forward scheme can support someone by providing food and drinks, but it also allows us to build a trusting relationship with people accessing the service and then can go on to support them going forward. 

“Conversation and inclusion are hugely important in society and a major part of Social Bite. Isolation and loneliness are silent killers and research suggests it can be as damaging to someone's health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“Through Social Bite and Pay it Forward we can welcome people with a smile, a hot meal, and a simple ‘How are you today?’ – it can make someone's day that hasn't spoken to anyone and been ignored on the street. A simple ‘How are you?’ can save lives.”


The Herald:

The donated coffees will be provided through the Pay It Forward scheme across Social Bite’s three Scottish locations in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen.  

Brock, who has been with Social Bite for over three years, went on to explain how the number of people the organisation supports is rising, with more Scots facing challenging situations every year.

From rough sleeping and living in temporary/emergency accommodation to facing the imminent threat of becoming homeless – the combined impact of food poverty, housing emergencies, and the cost-of-living crisis is being felt across Scotland’s major cities, Brock says.

He added: “The biggest challenge I see at the moment is a shortage of adequate housing across the whole of the UK. Toward the end of 2023 Edinburgh and Glasgow declared a housing emergency with more councils following this year.

“This means more people are finding themselves homeless and declaring it with councils, but there is a lack of permanent and temporary homes, as well as hotels/B&B and emergency accommodation leaving people with no option but to sleep rough or sofa surf with friends or family if they can. 

Social Bite’s Pay It Forward scheme provides hot food and drinks to thousands of people in need, which Brock says can prove crucial in developing trust and providing a sense of inclusion for people who may have experienced traumatic events.

Established 160 years ago this year, bosses at Matthew Algie said they hope their donation can inspire others to get involved in the event ahead of Sunday.

Managing Director, Paul Chadderton, said: “Social Bite tirelessly works to address one of Scotland’s most pressing issues, homelessness, and is one of our most important partners. This donation will help kick off conversations that can make a difference, as well as providing a moment of enjoyment at a difficult time for those the charity supports.

“More importantly, we want to highlight the importance of Paying It Forward to people across Scotland. A small gesture can make a huge difference to those who need it most.” 

Mel Swan, Social Bite’s Commercial and Operations Director, said: “Pay It Forward is part of the fabric of Social Bite. Food and drink help people at their most vulnerable and it can lead to other support towards a more stable position in life. It all starts by talking.

“Matthew Algie’s donation of 1,000 cups of coffee will help hundreds of people across Scotland in the coming weeks. Each one offers the possibility of connection and building a relationship that can help someone experiencing homelessness get the support they need. 

“Paying it forward is a small act that can mean a lot and brighten someone’s day. It also plays a big part in our ultimate goal of ending homelessness.” 

People can pay it forward at every one of Social Bite’s locations to help someone experiencing homelessness. You can also Pay It Forward online at social-bite.co.uk/what-we-do/our-shops/pay-it-forward/