The Bus Shelter


It all started with a single thought of helping the homeless in these cold months. My partner Sarah and I started a Facebook page – Keeping Ipswich Homeless Warmer – where we asked the people of Ipswich for donations of warm clothing, sleeping bags and pillows and the response was overwhelming. We were going out every Tuesday and Thursday evening (more frequently when the weather deteriorated), offering warm clothes, sleeping bags, socks and a coffee, just making sure people had what they needed to survive on the streets. We soon came to realise that something extra is needed for the homeless in Ipswich and we think a branch of the growing The Bus Shelter UK network is the answer.

After seeing an article about The Shelter on the Isle of Wight where Kevin Newton had converted a double decker bus into a hostel for the homeless, we decided

that was what we were going to do. We have spoken with Kevin who has agreed we can use the the Bus Shelter branding and we are gaining help and advice from him and his team. We are hoping to have our bus and the conversion completed by March 2017, which is when the night shelter closes its doors for another year and many homeless return to the streets.

Ninety percent of the conversion will be completed by myself with hopefully local companies and tradesman donating time and materials to help complete the project as cost effectively as possible. The bus will be designed to accommodate 16 to 18 rough sleepers and two volunteer watchers. Each bed will be equipped with a USB charging point, LED lighting and privacy curtains, as well as a PO Box number for

each guest to receive mail for interviews, appointments and benefits. The bus will also be fitted with a functional kitchen, chill out area and hopefully a private room for counselling or treatment. There will be a programme that each guest must sign up to which will include any rehab required, whether it be drink or drugs misuse, and a plan for volunteer work at least one day a week within the local community.

We have called the project TIFFERS after our 15-year-old daughter Tiffani who has been an inspiration throughout our journey to help the homeless. She has been with us every evening we have been out and enjoys chatting to the men and women we help. She is as dedicated to the project as we are.

We have a few meetings lined up in the new year with some big organisations who really want to help get the project up and running. Their advice and motivation is going to be very helpful. You can find our more by visiting our Facebook page where you will find links to our justgiving fundraising page:

Your donation, however small, will help us to get the homeless off the street to somewhere warm, dry and safe. Anything that you can afford to give will be very much appreciated.

Gareth Brenland

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