The double decker, which once transported bands like Kaiser Chiefs, will be used as temporary accommodation
A pioneering initiative to transform a fourteen-bed double-decker tour bus into temporary accommodation for the homeless will launch in Manchester this summer.
Stockport-based Christian charity Embassy is behind the project, which aims to ‘bridge the gap’ for Greater Manchester’s homeless while they seek secure permanent accommodation.
Staffed by a team of trained volunteers, headed by a permanent manager, it will be open daily and provide ‘5110 sleeps per year’ across fourteen beds as well as two lounges, a kitchen and storage space.
Alongside various charities, drug and addiction agencies, Embassy has the backing of regeneration company Capital & Centric, who donated half of the upfront costs to buy the former tour bus and are urging others to donate. Although £30,000 has been secured, estimated running costs are £100k per year, necessitating continued fundraising.
Guests will be referred by partner agencies to the bus, which will be parked securely overnight at Manchester City Mission and at Stagecoach’s depot during the day. Catering specifically to vulnerable men, it is hoped the vehicle will eventually form part of a fleet.
According to the Embassy Bus website, there are now around eight times more homeless people in Manchester than there are emergency beds. More than 300 people are sleeping rough, a situation that - although some organisations help with food, clothing and advice - is worsened by the long, difficult process of getting permanent accommodation and employment.
Sid Williams, who conceived the project alongside his wife Tess, said: “A safe place to sleep and rest is the most basic of needs, but many people who find themselves homeless have been deprived of that. You can’t face the process of finding a permanent home when you are exhausted and living hour to hour.
“The bus is a quick way to provide safe and comfortable beds, adding to the city’s provision. Once people are there, they’ll be able to make useful connections with agencies, businesses and churches who could change their future, providing support into permanent homes and full-time employment.”
Tim Heatley, Capital & Centric co-founder and Chair of Andy Burnham’s Business Network for the Homeless - part of the Mayor’s campaign to end rough sleeping by 2020 - said: “We need pragmatic and cost-effective solutions to helping our homeless and rough sleepers. When Sid set out his vision for the Embassy bus project we were sold, we knew we had to get behind it.
“Businesses have a role to play in seeking out these creative ideas and making them happen. I’ll be encouraging that as part of the Business Network, but I’m leading by example with my own business, putting our hand in our pocket. The bus will become a lifeline for those in the city that need rest, support and a route back into a community that cares.”