Leader comment: All credit to Social Bite entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Josh Littlejohn provides a shining example of how to do business with a conscience and still succeed.

The co-founder of Social Bite, which helps the homeless through cafes which donate all profits to good causes, has made a difference to thousands of lives, all the while helping build a strong and stable company.

But perhaps Mr Littlejohn’s greatest success is not in helping establish Social Bite’s network of cafes but in devising the Sleep in the Park event, which highlights the plight of the homeless while raising serious sums of money to help them. On Saturday night, more than 8,000 people participated in the sleep-out in Edinburgh, so far raising a mightily impressive £3.6 million for charity in the process.

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Among those participating were Sir Bob Geldof and Deputy First Minister John Swinney. Mr Littlejohn, it is clear, had a knack for getting things done.

But, while we are filled with admiration for the organisers of and participants in Saturday’s sponsored sleep-out, we are bound to note it is a tragedy in this day and age, in a country as prosperous as Scotland, that it was necessary for it to go ahead, at all. Mr Swinney and fellow government ministers Angela Constance and Kevin Stewart are among those to whom we say “well done” for raising money and awareness on Saturday.

But we’d like to think that these influential politicians left Princes Street Gardens yesterday morning with more than the feeling that they had done something worthwhile. We’d like to think that participation in the event has focussed the minds of Mr Swinney and his colleagues.

Yes, charities such as Social Bite are absolutely crucial, but Government cannot shirk its responsibility for failings in society. And a rate of homelessness in Scotland equivalent to 11,000 households is, by and standards, a failing.

Speaking after Sleep in the Park, Mr Littlejohn said participants from all walks of life had come together to stick up for the most vulnerable among us and that they had collectively given a voice to people who have never had one.

This may be so but what use that voice if nobody is listening? The participation of Cabinet ministers on Saturday night is to their credit but it doesn’t absolve the Scottish Government of responsibility 
for doing all it can to end homelessness.