Rosie Godfrey interviewed Kizzy Lovell from North Devon Bus Shelter/Survival Bags Home & Away.
What is the Bus Shelter project/Bus Shelter North Devon?
The Bus Shelter North Devon project has been taken on by a small non profit making charitable group called Survival Bags-Home and Away who have been working with the homeless locally for a few years.
The voluntary group were contacted by a gentleman who had seen the first Bus Shelter project in the Isle of Wight and wanted to donate a bus for our area to be worked on. He knew our group worked 'on the ground' with the homeless and felt we were the right people for the project.
We contacted Bus Shelter UK and got on board!
We have just received the double decker bus and it is now parked up on land where we can start the conversion to a bus with sleeping pods for about 14 homeless, a shower, toilet ,kitchen and a seating area.
Why is there a need for this project locally?
We have some great organisations in the area helping to house the homeless, but there are a small number of people who find it more difficult to adjust to moving straight into a room with four walls around them. We hope that by providing a small personal sleeping pod, alongside a family type of support system, we can support the people who will take a while longer to adjust, as well as provide shelter to those who do not want to leave the street, on very cold and wet winter nights.
The tagline for North Devon Bus Shelter is 'Sleep is only the beginning'. Why?
Sleep is so important - we recently supported a man who was homeless but trying to hold down a job, He was unable to sleep properly and at risk of losing his job because he was tired, not eating properly and was not in a fit state to work... but our bus will also provide the other bit that is missing for these men (and occasionally women who will be kept safe in sleeping pods downstairs)... a family atmosphere of belonging.
We already have a close connection with those on the very outskirts of life. They connect to us as people who actually care about them and who go out of our way to support them. The bus will be a point of contact where the men can come and get help with benefit forms, access counselling, have people to go to appointments with and generally care. They will have a kitchen so can eat together, cook and socialise. We are the only 'family' many of these men have had in many years.
Where did the bus come from?
The bus was donated to us. The donor found the bus and arranged for it to get to us, with the help of a local bus driver.
How can people 'Get On Board'?
People can look at our fb pages @Survival Bags-Home and Away and @Bus Shelter North Devon for the most up to date information about the bus, can message us through messenger or through our website
We need people to 'get on board' in a number of ways.
As well as helping in a practical 'hands on' sense, we need supporters like businesses to get themselves advertised on the back of the bus by donating £50+ to our project, we need other business' and craftsmen to help fitting and with supplies of wood, lighting fixtures , a cooker and wood stove, bathroom fittings and many many more items, all listed on the fb and website pages, and they will go onto the back of the bus too as supporters.
We also need financial help to continue to feed, clothe and provide assistance to the homeless whilst the bus is being worked on. We currently do this from a little premises in Bear Street, Barnstaple, which is open to the homeless 7 days a week from 3-6pm, until the bus is up and running, when many of the services we provide from here will be moved to the bus, freeing up the premises to continue providing more space for increased free counselling services, energy debt management and making up survival bags for other groups of people in need.
As we move into autumn and winter, we will post updates on how the project is progressing.