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A scheme raising funds for homeless charities by adding £1 on to diners’ restaurants bills, is calling for people to dig deep as the recession bites.
Streetsmart, which has raised £4.2 million nationally since it was founded in 1998, is coming to the end of its most recent Edinburgh festival campaign. It has been supported by a clutch of famous names including best-selling crime novelist Ian Rankin and celebrity restaurateurs such as Tom Kitchin and Martin Wishart.
Other participating restaurants in the scheme, which distributes money to projects aimed at getting people off the streets and onto their feet again, include the Vintner Rooms and Harvey Nicols restaurant.
The idea is that in the midst of the party atmosphere of the Edinburgh Festival, few diners will object to paying an extra pound to charity, particularly when the small amount is simply added to their bill.
However, Scottish organiser Martin Irons admitted that despite the high-profile support, raising funds for the homeless was getting increasingly difficult, with both restaurant owners and diners feeling the pinch.
“Times have been very tough for restaurant owners in the current financial climate and restaurants all over Edinburgh are closing or facing closure,” he said.
“The same goes for diners. They are stretched to the limit with price rises in everything from food to fuel. Why should they spare another pound for homeless charities at the end of their meal out?”
However, Irons insists they remain optimistic about the future of the scheme. “It just means we need to work harder to ensure it is a success,” he said.
They are now looking for volunteers to get involved in the Christmas campaign, which will run later in the year, who can help sign up and restaurants across Scotland to help them take part.
Streetsmart runs twice a year in Scotland, during the Edinburgh festival and in the run-up to Christmas. In England, it runs just once a year, in November and December.
While some of the money goes on basics - such as beds for the night, clothing and food - most goes on projects with longer-term goals to support homeless people to move on with their lives, address health and other underlying problems, get into education or training and find work.
The charity more recently launched Sleep Smart, which targets hotels and asks them to add £1 to the bill of all of their guests.
To find out more see: www.streetsmart.org.uk