Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000

Description

Church on the Bus has an enormous impact in Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire as it provides food, clothing, sleeping bags and blankets, conversation and self respect for the rough sleepers and other vulnerable people in the area. It has being doing this since 2004 and in that time has provided over 50,000 meals to the most disadvantaged in our area. In that time we have had 4 different buses (all secondhand and converted to our purposes) but our current bus is 'on its last legs' and needs replacing with a newer model. Without it this excellent project cannot continue so the bus replacement is classed as 'urgent'. Our aim is to give people hope for the future, as well as to keep them healthy and make their day-to-day lives more manageable. We also provide art classes three times a week for those who want it and treat them with respect so they will understand that they can still be part of the wider local community. Some go on to become volunteers themselves and two have had exhibitions of their art work at venues in the area, supported by us.
An example of the impact the project has is illustrated by the following, which occurred on 17th September 2018. One of our volunteers spoke to a young man in the local doctor's surgery, when the volunteer went for an appointment with his own doctor. The man was clearly agitated and dirty, having slept rough the previous night and for some nights before. He was there to try to get a doctor's note to take to Social Services, as he had been released from prison with no money, no possessions and no prospect of a job or accommodation. He felt a doctor's note would help him get benefits and didn't know how else he could illustrate his plight. Our volunteer referred him to that evening's session at our bus. The young man came, was given a sleeping bag, blankets, food and warm clothing, advice on who to approach to provide accommodation locally and introduced to some 'regulars' who might be able to accommodate him until he got himself sorted out. In these circumstances, the fact that someone cared and could help him with the basics was invaluable and made him feel he wasn't alone. From an impact viewpoint it prevented him carrying out crime in the local community to try to ease his situation and gave him some hope that someone was interested in him. We hope he will become a regular visitor to the bus and we may be able to help him further. His story is typical of that of many of our other visitors and our help and encouragement facilitates their reintegration into society when they have hit rock bottom. This is therefore a 'double whammy' - helping both the individuals involved and the wider community as a whole.
With regard to longevity and sustainability, the project has been running for 14 years. We have a group of around 35 volunteers who work on a rota basis (many of whom have volunteered for over 5 years) and the only barrier to the project continuing is if we haven't got a working, serviceable bus. Thus the money would be our lifeline, as buying the bus is the only major cost we incur, everything else being donated (see photos).
With regard to innovation, despite its longevity we believe this is the only project of its kind in this country and the novelty of the bus (and the security where our guests can enjoy a bit of warmth and safety, both physical and in psychological terms) is what has kept the project alive, interesting and successful.
The likelihood of success is 100%. As long as we have a bus to take out our guests will come - we know this as we have been doing it for 14 years and the numbers of rough sleepers and disadvantaged people is greater now than at any time in that period. We have a formula for success that works, mainly by offering what our guests urgently need - food, warm clothing (even in the summer months), hope and self respect. They keep coming back because they trust us and know we are there to offer these things in an open and non-judgmental way.

Church On The Bus

Moment of Pride

Our pride in this project is the fact that it is completely locally led, from the drivers of the bus to the volunteers, the sandwich makers, the flask fillers and milk and soup providers, the team leaders and their assistants, who all give their time and effort on a willing and voluntary basis.

Location: Chesterfield District, Derbyshire, UK