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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Social Bite rocked by allegations founder ran charity like an "autocrat"

 

Complaints have been lodged with OSCR

Social Bite is facing a probe by Scotland's charity regulator after complaints were lodged against the high-profile social enterprise.

It comes amid allegations co-founder Josh Littlejohn ran the charity like an “autocrat” leading to the resignations of five of the organisation’s trustees last year.

Social Bite is one of Scotland's highest profile charities and has been lauded by Prince Harry and supported by celebrities including George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio 

Rosalind Cuschieri, the chairwoman, a former food firm chief executive; Kent Mackenzie, an executive with Deloitte; Morag McNeill, deputy chair of court at Heriot-Watt University; and Ellie Murphy, a PR executive, resigned as Social Bite trustees on May 17, 2021. Marjory Rodger, a business consultant, resigned on August 23.

A Social Bite source said one resigned for family reasons but remained the chair of the subsidiary board until March 2022, one resigned after completing two four-year terms under the charity’s constitution, and three resigned after putting in significant hours helping the homeless during the pandemic.

Former chief executive officer for Scotland, Jane Bruce, invoked whistleblower protection before resigning in September 2020. Trustees investigated numerous concerns raised upon her departure and one was upheld, relating to an individual whose photograph appeared in a social media post without approval.

A senior former Social Bite insider told The Times there had been growing disquiet over Littlejohn’s “autocratic” style of leadership that put the charity’s work “in danger of being tarnished by the actions and inflated ego of one individual”.

Littlejohn said in a statement: “Over the last decade, the organisation has been on an incredible journey, where over 1,000 people have been helped off the streets into their own home with support as a direct result of Social Bite’s work.

“I’m incredibly proud of everything we have achieved as a team and I am very lucky to have such a brilliant team of people around me.

“As Social Bite has grown and evolved, so have I, and like any entrepreneur in a young, fast-growing organisation, will continue to do so. As the charity has matured, it is only right that it becomes less reliant on its founder.

“For the last few years I’ve been working with our board to put in place a new structure which allows me to focus on my passion for developing new and innovative projects to help homeless people.”

Littlejohn resigned as a trustee of Social Bite in 2020. The new structure was implement in May last year with Sir Andrew Cubie appointed executive chairman and Jonathan Payne as executive director for operations.

Littlejohn also resigned as a director of Social Bite Restaurants and Social Bite Limited in February this year, and is now an executive director. He remains a trustee of the World’s Big Sleep Out Trust.

Sir Andrew Cubie said: “In spite of the global pandemic, the charity has gone from strength to strength. As an organisation we remain focused on delivering vital projects to the highest standards, so we can ultimately achieve our aim of helping the most vulnerable people in society and ending homelessness.

“For the last ten years Josh Littlejohn has worked tirelessly to end homelessness, helping thousands of vulnerable individuals off the streets.

“His entrepreneurial spirit and drive has established Social Bite as one of the UK’s leading homeless charities recognised globally for doing things differently and delivering results.

“For everyone who has ever met Josh they will know how passionate he is about ending homelessness and helping individuals fulfil their potential. He’s incredibly well respected and well liked by the Social Bite team, partners and the homeless community.”

A spokesman for the OSCR said it has received concerns about the charity and is examining them, according to its published policies. 

 

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