A London charity has renovated two double-decker buses to provide a place to wash, groom and access health care for the city’s growing homeless population.
Change Please, a coffee shop and social enterprise, hopes the project will provide extra help and support to those with rough sleepers as the winter months approach.
Guests have the opportunity to visit a dentist, therapist and hairdresser, and have the staff help them with practical things like opening a bank account and access to digital training. All services will be free.
The buses also include hubs where people can make virtual appointments with a doctor.
It comes after Crisis, a housing charity, warned that 100,000 renters across the UK could become homeless this winter.
Homelessness in London is on the rise, according to charity Crisis, which said data showed a 25 percent increase from April to June this year.
The organizers of the bus project hope to help around 3,000 homeless men and women a year to achieve better hygiene and find safe jobs.
Change Please plans to roll out a third bus in the coming months to provide mental health support and counseling.
There are also talks to expand the buses to Manchester, Paris and the USA.
CEO Cemal Ezel, 37, a former London financier, said the project is a “world first” that aims to “build trust, break down barriers and then lift people out of homelessness”.
“The long-term goal is really to try to break down these barriers so that someone can get out of homelessness in the longer term,” he said.
“Of the people we interact with on a daily basis, many tell us that they are too embarrassed to look at their reflection in a shop window when walking past a shop window, which is hundreds of times a day when they sleep poorly.
“And by giving someone a haircut, a shower, a change of clothes, and then walking with a Polaroid picture of themselves, hopefully they are remembering who they once were and the image of who they used to be , which is the building block for us to rebuild their self-confidence and their self-confidence, to try again that they reintegrate into society and become homeless in the long term. “
Sleepers with rough sleepers can text them asking for a bus to come to them so they can access health care.
By taking the bus to rough sleepers who text messages asking for help, they hope to address health issues before they get worse.
“Someone might be sitting there with a tumor or a growth somewhere, a black toe or a persistent cough or a pain in their arm or something like that and their self-confidence, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-confidence. the value is so low that they actually just put it aside, ”said Mr Ezel.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan attended an opening ceremony Thursday morning to cut a ribbon ahead of World Homeless Day on Sunday.
Launched Today – London buses, repurposed by @ChangePlease, will serve people affected by homelessness – and provide access to family doctors, dentists, showers, financial advice and more. Proud to support their innovative work. pic.twitter.com/Yh1EYUk9pq
– Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) October 7, 2021
He posted photos of himself on Twitter, chatted with the staff on board the buses and said: “Proud to support your innovative work.”
The project is financed by proceeds from Change Please’s coffee business, which trains the homeless to become baristas and helps them to keep their jobs.
NHS England also provides part of the funding for doctor’s appointments as part of a pilot project one day a week. Project sponsors are Colgate, HSBC UK and MasterCard UK & Ireland.
It is to be hoped that the buses will be able to offer corona vaccinations from the beginning of 2022.
Buses will run six days a week for the next two years, with each bus supporting a minimum of six people per day and costing £ 22,000 ($ 30,000) per month.
Updated: October 7, 2021, 3:21 p.m.