A charity for the homeless wants to help hard-to-reach people with restless sleep through a newly converted double-decker bus.
The Turning Tides bus is being used to help tackle the problem of hidden homelessness, which the charity says is on the rise.
The bus has been equipped with facilities such as showers, a kitchenette and a washing machine to help poor sleepers in rural areas.
Andy, a Turning Tides customer who now volunteers to drive the buses, said: “This bus and the charity are life-saving.
“Homelessness can strip you of your dignity – you don’t feel human. It’s a very dark, lonely place.
“Turning Tides offers so much – shelter, warmth, community. They were so helpful and understanding and I feel like I’ve grown through charity.”
Turning Tides says that as a rule of thumb, for every homeless person visible on the street, there are 20 homeless people hidden.
The bus will enable the charity to help these people by operating between rural areas of West Sussex.
The homeless bus is designed to help people with limited mobility get back on their feet. This may include face-to-face assistance sessions as well as use of onboard internet facilities to assist in setting up medical appointments and housing applications.
The bus is operated largely by volunteers, with Turning Tides providing the training needed to drive the double-decker bus.
The charity is also raising money to keep the bus running at a cost of around £100 a day.
Ruth Poyner, director of fundraising for Turning Tides, said: “Terrible sleep is really scary. It’s a really dangerous existence.
“Sometimes people who sleep badly in the forest don’t see anyone for days. They may sleep in their cars, but many of these people live in remote areas of the Sussex countryside.
“We’ve been operating the bus for about six days and have found it bringing great benefits to people across the country.”
According to a study cited by Turning Tides, the average homeless person dies about 30 years younger than average life expectancy.
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/20778191.sussex-charity-using-bus-fight-rural-homelessness/?ref=rss Sussex charity uses bus to help tackle rural homelessness