Homeless people face numerous problems apart from the lack of a safe and warm place to stay. These people are constantly being discriminated against and rejected by the general public, are often victims of violence and abuse, and are faced with limited access to private and public services and vital necessities.
Homelessness is one of the main issues of modern society, and people are addressing this massive and tragic problem in various ways around the world.
Kind people in Newport, Wales, thought of an innovative way to help those in need- by turning a double-decker bus into a temporary place to sleep.
Volunteers with the Helping Open People’s Eyes (HOPE) group spent the past year raising money and invested it into this vehicle. It offers beds for 12 people, as well as two showers, two toilets, a kitchen, and a tiny lounge area.
After seeing a similar project in Bristol a year ago, self-employed bus driver Ian Smith and his wife Tammy from Cefn Fforest, Blackwood, decided to give it a try:
“We have been feeding the homeless for the last four years. It is getting more and more common and we are seeing a lot more people on the streets.
I first seen Jasper Thompson and his Bristol Home for the Night campaign. He had a bus there which was converted. I saw his project and I thought what a wonderful thing so I thought we should start fundraising for it.”
Ian started raising money in October 2018, but since his organization is not a registered charity, most of the money came from donations and raffles. He eventually purchased a working double-decker bus for about £5,000 (€5850) and converted it into a night shelter. The entire project cost nearly £20,000 (€23,400).
“I think it was £18,000. No grants whatsoever. It was fundraising and people and businesses helping out. It has been hard work but worth it.”
He also wrote:
“The amount of help and support has been unbelievable; everybody has pulled together and now the bus is nearly finished.”
Ian explained that at least two of the group’s nine volunteers would be on duty with the bus, and it will drive for a few nights a week at first.
Even though the HOPE bus is not a solution to homelessness, it is a step forward, as it will “offer a temporary refuge to people living on the streets in the greater Gwent area.”
According to their website:
“We are staffed entirely on a volunteer basis, and rely on donations from the public, as well as fundraising events to support our work.
Additionally, we are potentially hoping to recruit volunteer staff specializing in areas relating to drugs, alcohol and housing issues, who will be available be able to offer much-needed advice and potentially practical support to our clients.”
After visiting Bristol, bus driver Ian Smith and his wife Tammy from Cefn Fforest, Blackwood, got the idea of a night shelter.
The bus offers a sleeping place for twelve people.
There were open days when volunteers showed people around the facilities.
The bus has a kitchen
There are two shower and toilet cubicles
At the back, there is a small lounge space
A photo of Tammy and Ian Smith with Blackwood mayor Gerwyn James