George Clooney swaps red carpet for Edinburgh's cobbles


George Clooney has swapped the glitz and glamour of Hollywood for a humble sandwich shop which helps the homeless. 

Rather than the red carpet, he walked the cobbles of Edinburgh's Rose Street to visit a Social Bite cafe, where he met staff who were once homeless but now have jobs in the chain of shops which donates all its profits to charity.

Stepping out of his chauffeur-driven car, he took time to greet some of those who had waited for hours in the cold, chatting to fans and posing for selfies.

He told a media scrum outside the cafe: "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".

During his visit to the shop, he handed over a £5 note for the cafe's suspended coffee programme, where customers can pay for a hot drink or meal for a homeless person.

But before he left, he also made a 1,000 US dollars (£650) donation to the shop's till.

Clooney's visit came after he accepted an invitation from Josh Littlejohn, co-founder of Social Bite.

Speaking after Clooney left, Mr Littlejohn said: "George is an incredible guy, someone who has achieved real global fame but thinks nothing of visiting a local sandwich shop to chat to the workers and discuss the issue of homelessness.

"He was delighted to spend time with some of our formerly homeless staff and hear the stories of how they have transformed their lives through full-time work."

A quarter of the workforce in the five Social Bite shops across Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen is formerly homeless.

After the visit, Clooney went to the nearby offices of the People's Postcode Lottery where he received a cheque for £175,000 for Not On Our Watch - the humanitarian charity he co-founded with fellow actors including Matt Damon and Brad Pitt.

He thanked players of the charity lottery for their support and added: "Standing united as an international community, this funding will help us to increase global attention to human rights violations across the world."

The Ocean's Eleven star was then taken to Tigerlily on George Street for a private lunch with a small group of people, including 32-year-old Heather McGowan who won a competition organised by deals and events site itison to meet him.

He was seen giving her a kiss on the cheek as the lunch finished and he left the venue.

Ms McGowan, who runs a wedding events company in Glasgow, said: "It still seems a bit surreal, now that it's over. It was lovely and I spent a lot of time with him but now that it is done, it's a time to reflect on it and actually try and absorb all the little bits of the day.

"I was really, really worried that I would just be a mess but I kind of held it together pretty well. I got the first question and managed to keep my cool and answer it. It was a day I'm honestly not going to forget.

"The first question I asked him was about his wedding and what involvement he had in that. He said he pretty much got involved as much as he could but at the end of the day you can only take a certain amount of questions about napkin rings before you lose your cool.

"He is the most charming man. I was really hoping he was going to be charming and amazing and he was above and beyond that. He was brilliant. Everyone that was in there was absolutely captivated by every word that he had to say."