Decommissioned double-deckers are being “upcycled” into high quality shelters for homeless Londoners.
Social enterprise Buses 4 Homeless will offer rough sleepers sleep pods - with privacy screens and storage space - for three-month minimum stays in a newly converted 20-berth “sleeping bus”.
Three more Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)-contravening buses, donated by the Stagecoach Foundation, have been revamped to provide space for a “holistic” 24-hour support program, including a 32-seater “dining bus”, where clients can eat and learn to cook, and a “learning bus” where volunteers and corporate delegates will offer qualifications training and advice. Mental health support services will be offered.
The vehicles were converted by a formerly homeless designer with the paid help of six people living on the streets, all of whom are in work and living in permanent housing as a result.
The project will take in its first cohort this summer in Thornton Heath, Crystal Palace, and its founder is appealing to Londoners for help in finding a permanent space to park and operate.
Former teacher Dan Atkins, 39, came up with the idea last year after he found a homeless man sleeping underneath a coach he was working on for a small business project. He recruited the help of local carpenters and his former neighbour, and began contacting donors.
Since February, more than 60 volunteers have helped out and the team has raised over £30,000.
He told the Standard: “I saw someone sleeping under a coach I was working on, ragged. So went out, bought a bus, and he slept in that with his three dogs, now he is in full time employment and has a house… I wanted to help more people and the ULEZ has made all of the older buses surplus to requirements.
“We are offering a three-month program so that homeless guests have that certainty. We are trying to create a more transitional program and on a much bigger level. We are not the first people to build [sleeping] buses for homeless people, but the first people to build a holistic program around them.
“These guys have skills, they have tools, they have a passion, they just need support and the opportunity to do something positive.
“In an ideal world we would like to have the four buses parked in a square… Until then we’ll drive around.”
See more at https://buses4homeless.org/