A group of volunteers have used their free time to give back to the community by converting a double-decker bus into a place for homeless people to sleep.
A converted double-decker bus will soon be on the streets of Newport, Wales, offering homeless people a temporary place to sleep.
With the help of Helping Open People’s Eyes (HOPE), volunteers have used money collected over a year of tireless fundraising to make this vision become a reality.
Now that the project is in its final stages, it won’t be long before the bus will be on the road, offering street sleepers somewhere warm and cosy for the night.
The bus has the space for 12 beds, two showers, two toilets, a kitchen and even a small lounge area.
The project began in October 2018 and was began by a man named Ian Smith who was a self-employed minibus driver.
Ian and his wife, Tammy, had the idea for a night shelter after visiting a similar project in Bristol.
The couple, from Cefn Fforest, Blackwood, started raising money for their soon-to-be organisation, with the majority of the money being gathered from raffles and donations.
“We have been feeding the homeless for the last four years,” Ian, 44, told WalesOnline. “It is getting more and more common and we are seeing a lot more people on the streets. I first saw 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.”
Eventually, Ian raised enough money to purchase a working double-decker bus that was originally used on the streets of London for about £5,000 ($5850) and the group then focused on converting it into a practical living space.
In total, Ian says the project cost nearly £20,000 ($23,400)!
“I think it was £18,000,” Ian said. “No grants whatsoever. It was fundraising and people and businesses helping out. It has been hard work but worth it.
“We wanted to get it out before Christmas but it is just whether we can get through these repairs.
“But we are still looking for funding. To take the bus from Cefn Fforest to Newport is £60 in fuel.”
Ian says that at least two of the group’s nine volunteers would be on duty whilst the bus was in use. The plan the group made enforced that the bus would be used for a few nights a week at first, which in the future could potentially be extended.
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