People affected by street homelessness in Suffolk will be able to access support, guidance and rehabilitation after a £5,000 donation from a digital marketing agency helped get The Bus Shelter Ipswich’s outreach bus on the road.
Itineris, a digital marketing company with offices in Copdock, Suffolk and Bishopsgate, London, made the donation after seeing a Facebook campaign appealing for £50 donations to cover insurance costs and final renovations to the former school bus.
Established in November 2017, The Bus Shelter Ipswich is a community interest company that provides free accommodation, advice and support to vulnerable people in and around the Ipswich area via its first converted bus, called ‘Tiffers’, and two outreach vans.
The organisation was appealing for funds to help finalise a second bus, called ‘Cheys’, that will act as a mobile drop-in and advice centre. According to the Rough Sleeping in England Report, homelessness in Ipswich has increased by over 60% since 2010.
Rechenda Smith, Marketing Manager at Itineris said: “We saw the good work that The Bus Shelter Ipswich does for local homelessness and immediately wanted to help.
“Instead of giving just a £50 gift, we wanted to fund the full balance of the target to ensure Cheys could be fulfilled and local people in need could access the vital support that The Bus Shelter Ipswich team provides.
“Homeless is very close to our hearts. We already work with St Mungo’s, which is a homeless charity based in London. But we wanted to reach out and help a local project too. We are looking forward to seeing the outreach bus up and running and helping vulnerable people for years to come.”
The Bus Shelter Ipswich has helped re-house and rehabilitate eight people affected by street homelessness in the Ipswich area since its inception, and have helped another 50 people with outreach and advice.
Whilst the bus can accommodate 14 rough sleepers in a severe weather emergency situation (SWES), it holds four to six residents comfortably at any one time. The second bus will focus on outreach but will also offer SWES accommodation.
The Bus Shelter Ipswich provides a 24/7 response service to any calls of concern for a rough sleeper anywhere within Suffolk and clothing and food packages to local families in need.
The concept was inspired by the Isle of Wight Bus Shelter project, and was formed at the same time as the Milton Keynes Bus Shelter scheme.
Gareth Brenland, of The Bus Shelter Ipswich, added: We don’t get government or local authority funding so rely totally on the support of the public. This gift will allow us to get our outreach bus up-and-running and help even more people affected by homelessness in Ipswich and beyond.
“Residents usually stay on the bus for a couple of weeks or months and use on-board facilities such as Wi-Fi, a scanner, printer, hot shower, phone chargers, kitchen facilities and a bed. However it has been known for residents to stay longer if necessary.
“Our aim is not to just find our guests a new accommodation, but to also help them to get on to their rehabilitation and to start rebuilding their self-confidence and lives.
“Once a guest leaves us, our support will not just end, we will continue to give regular support when needed to ensure that the cycle of being homeless does not start again.
“Our guests are family, and will forever be treated as such. The new outreach bus will ensure we continue to support as many people in need as possible.”
Ongoing fundraising is an essential part of The Bus Shelter Ipswich’s future. The organisation needs around £40,000 a year to continue to run its support service, buses and outreach programmes.