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Leonardo DiCaprio visits Edinburgh and dines at new ‘pay it forward’ restaurant

Award-winning American actor Leonardo DiCaprio visited Edinburgh last week during his foray to Scotland.

DiCaprio, who most recently won an Oscar Award for his performance in the 2016 movie The Revenant, came to make a speech for the Scottish Business Awards at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC).

DiCaprio was made a United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2014, due to his activist work on climate change awareness.

Whilst in Edinburgh, DiCaprio also paid a visit to the restaurant Home on Queensferry Street. The restaurant’s staff are made up of homeless people, and the restaurant provides a shelter during the day to other people living on the streets of the capital.

The restaurant, which is considered a fine dining establishment, asks customers to ‘pay it forward’, or donate money at the end of their meal to pay for the meals of the homeless, who are then invited to the restaurant on Mondays to dine.

The restaurant was set up alongside the establishment of the Social Bite café and academy, which offers a four year salaried course for the homeless.

DiCaprio’s visit also opened the door to interviews with members of the staff. Speaking to The Daily Mail, Biffy Mackay, a trainee chef at the restaurant who used to be homeless, emphasised the change brought about in her life by her involvement with the restaurant.

“When you are homeless, people don’t look at you, they look through you. I didn’t feel like a person back then, I felt invisible. Now I have totally turned my life around.”

Co-founder of Social Bite, Josh Littlejohn, added that “it was such an honour to have Leonardo DiCaprio visit our brand new restaurant.”

The actor also had lunch with a fan, Elise Lovell, who won the opportunity through a raffle, the proceeds of which went to ‘Social Bite’. Lovell told The Guardian that her meeting with the star was “quite surreal but a fantastic couple of hours”.

DiCaprio has been involved in charity work over many years, with his most recent project being Before the Flood, a documentary concerning climate change. Released in September, the film received wide praise for its content.

In a review by The Guardian, it was praised as a “heartfelt, decent, educational documentary about the most important issue of our time.”

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation was founded in 1998, with the aim of supporting threatened ecosystems throughout the world. Since then, it has awarded grants to various projects of almost $60 million.

‘Social Bite’, which also has support from actors such as George Clooney, has restaurants in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow, which all employ formerly homeless individuals.

 

Image: Karen Borter

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