Hollywood superstar George Clooney was given a warm welcome this afternoon as he arrived in Edinburgh – to visit a sandwich shop which helps the homeless.
A large crowd gathered in Edinburgh’s Rose Street and cheered as the A-lister stepped out his chauffeur-driven car before he visited the cafe and donated £1,000 to the cause.
Clooney was visiting the Social Bite cafe to meet members of staff who were once homeless but now have jobs in the chain of shops which donates all its profits to charity.
He stopped to greet some of those who had waited for hours in the cold, and described the social enterprise as “fantastic”.
He told a media scrum outside the cafe: “It’s pretty amazing, and I’m looking forward to seeing it, I haven’t seen it up close yet.
“I like what they’re doing, I think it’s a very important cause. I think the idea that we can all participate in everyone’s difficulties is really important.”
The movie star described Edinburgh as “beautiful” and said he felt bad for the crowd who had been waiting for him because “they’re standing out in the cold”.
Clooney arrived in the city after accepting an invitation from Social Bite co-founder Josh Littlejohn, who has also set up the Scottish Business Awards which the actor will attend later.
Social Bite gives all of its profits to good causes and operates a “suspended” coffee and food programme where customers can pay for a hot drink or meal for a homeless person.
A quarter of the workforce in the five Social Bite shops across Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen is formerly homeless.
Speaking after the movie star left, Mr Littlejohn said he had “donated £1,000 by all accounts, and also handed over a £5 note inside”.
He added: “We knew that George is a really committed humanitarian, he has his own charity in Sudan, so we reached out to that charity and invited him over to Scotland.
“We said we would help fund raise for his charity and invited him to our Social Bite cafe, and to our delight he accepted.”
Ocean’s Eleven star Clooney will also have lunch at a secret location later in the day with 32-year-old wedding planner Heather McGowan, who won a competition to meet the A-lister.
He will speak at the Scottish Business Awards at the city’s international conference centre in front of a sold-out, 2,000-strong audience.
All proceeds from the business awards event, hosted by comedian Rob Brydon, will go towards a range of charities including the Social Bite Fund and Not On Our Watch, the humanitarian charity co-founded by Clooney with fellow actors Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and others.
Speaking ahead of the private lunch event, Ms McGowan, who runs a wedding events company in Glasgow, said she was “absolutely delighted” and “still a bit in shock” to have won the competition.
“I’m looking forward to hearing about his involvement in Social Bite and the work of his charity, Not On Our Watch. And being in the wedding business, I’m also really interested to find out how involved he was in planning his wedding to Amal,“ she said.