Festival Heroes: an appetite for altruistic actions

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Homeless charity Social Bite is just one of the local concerns Liz Cann is involved with. Photo: Jassy Earl

In a spirit of gratitude to all those whose hard work, encouragement and friendship have sustained the capital’s festival community over the years, the Edinburgh International Festival celebrates its 75th anniversary by highlighting the heroes of festival – people who selflessly opened their hearts and homes, and welcomed the world to Edinburgh.

Festival hero Liz Cann’s usual week is split between several charities she works and volunteers for. She’s always busy – there’s Seasons for Growth, an educational program that helps children cope with major life changes, such as the loss of a loved one, which Liz has worked for for almost 19 years; MCR Pathways, a mentorship program for young people that helps them find, develop and use their talent; and there’s also FACE (Fight Against Cancer Edinburgh), a charity based at Western General Hospital that raises money to provide “little things” that make a difference for patients and families who have been affected by cancer.

Liz adds: “One of the main things we do with FACE is a Christmas trip to Lapland with children affected by cancer. I cry every year. The trip was normally consecutive to the Sleep Out [Social Bite’s Sleep in the Park] so it was a long day.

Because, yes, Social Bite is another amazing charity that Liz is involved with – she’s been volunteering there for six years. She first became involved with Social Bite through a homeless woman named Laura, who had helped Liz’s daughter when she passed out on a busy street in Edinburgh.

Liz recalls: “I wanted to find this girl, I wanted to thank her for helping my daughter when no one else would. One of my work colleagues suggested that I come to a meeting at Social Bite. Unfortunately, I never found Laura again, but I found many friends at the association.

Liz has helped out at other Social Bite events including Break the Cycle and Festival of Kindness.

Every week, you can find Liz at the Vesta restaurant which serves free food for those who are homeless or in poverty, or at the Social Bite Café on Rose Street.

She also runs women-only afternoon teas with a difference, helps Glasgow-based charity the Kilt Walk, and organizes access to various festival shows for people who couldn’t. experience it differently – an initiative that began with the hard-hitting theater show Myra’s Story, which tells the story of a rough sleeper from Dublin named Myra McLaughlin.

Attend Thank You Edinburgh, a free Edinburgh International Festival concert, featuring the Philadelphia Orchestra, broadcast live in Princess Street Gardens from The Playhouse at 3pm on Saturday August 27th. For more information see www.eif.co.uk

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