H.O.P.E is a double-decker bus, which was built by volunteers, and accommodates 12 people, and is soon to be arriving in Newport, Wales, offering the homeless a temporary bed to sleep in. This double-decker accommodates 12, and includes 2 showers, 2 toilets, a kitchen and a small lounge. After tireless fundraising, volunteers working with Helping Open People’s Eyes (HOPE) were able to build this bus. Now being in the finishing stages, the volunteers of HOPE are confident that this will travel the roads providing mobile shelter for the homeless in the near future.
Ian Smith, a bus driver by profession, and his wife Tammy from Cefn Fforest, Blackwood, got this idea for a night shelter after they had visited a similar place in Bristol last October. 44 year old Ian talking to WalesOnline said, “We have been feeding the homeless for the last four years. It is getting more and more common and we are seeing a lot more people on the streets. I first seen 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.”
As a self-employed mini-bus driver, Ian began to raise money for this worthy cause in October last year. As his worthy cause is not a registered charity, most of the funds came through donations and raffles.
Once enough money was collected, Ian was eventually able to buy a working double decker for about £5,000 (€5850) which was initially used on the streets of London. Once purchased, he started working on it to convert it for the purpose of the cause, and in an interview, he stated that the entire project cost nearly £20,000 (€23,400). Ian went on to add, “I think it was £18,000. No grants whatsoever. It was fundraising and people and businesses helping out. It has been hard work but worth it.”
He also went on to add that the bus still requires a few more repairs before it will be able to be used. However, he has high hopes that it will be completed within the next few weeks. He says that “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 goes on to say that once the bus is in use, there will be at least 2 of the 9 volunteers of the group will be on duty. He said that the plan is to put the bus in use initially for a few nights a week and that it may extend in the future. You can visit their website if you wish to find out more about this project.
On the streets of America, there is a developing crisis, and even the European Union is struggling with the same immense, sad problem, which is homelessness. This is according to the statistics from the Homeless World Cup Foundation.
Over the last year, the population has risen, even in every single country in the EU, except Finland. The following are a few of the statistics of the rise of the homeless in various countries. In the UK, the number of people sleeping in the street or their car has risen by 7%. The homeless population has grown by 35% over the last 2 years in Germany and in France by 50%. The Netherlands showed an increase of 74% during 209-2015 from 13,000 to 31,000.
As there is no one single answer to this massive challenge, and this can have several fundamental contributing factors, the H.O.P.E bus is not a solution to homelessness. However, it is a stepping stone in the right direction, and it has started making a positive impact and an actual difference to at least few of the homeless who get a warm bed to sleep in in the coming winter nights.
Images : IanSmith/WalesOnline