The sad plight of the homeless is a never ending story. Thank God there are kind and generous souls who try to help alleviate the homeless situation around the world. Some people do more than donating spare change, or feeding the homeless. Volunteers in Newport, Wales, with the Helping Open People’s Eyes (H.O.P.E.) group built a double decker bus with 12 bunk beds, 2 showers, 2 toilets, a kitchen, and a lounge, to be able to provide temporary shelter for some homeless people. It was funded by tireless fundraising for over a year. The project is in the finishing stages, and the volunteers are certain it will be on the road serving as a mobile shelter within a few weeks. Bus driver Ian Smith and wife Tammy from Cefn Fforest, Blackwood, were inspired after visiting a similar project in Bristol last year.
“We have been feeding the homeless for the last four years,” Ian, 44, said. “It is getting more and more common and we are seeing a lot of people on the streets.” he explains that he first saw the idea created by 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,” he adds. Ian began raising money for his project in October last year. Since his organization is not a registered charity, majority of the funds were raised through raffles and donations. Ian is a self-employed minibus driver.
Ian purchased a double-decker bus that was once used in the streets of London for about 5,000 pounds. The total cost of the project reached almost 20,000 pounds.”I think it was 18,000 pounds,” Ian recalls. “ No grants whatsoever. It was fundraising and people and businesses helping out. It has been hard work but worth it.” He says the bus needs a few repairs before it is ready to be used, but he is hoping it will be ready before the year ends.” We want to get it out before Christmas but it is just whether we can get through these repairs,” he said. He mentions that 2 of the group’s nine volunteers would be on duty with the bus while in use. They plan to use the bus for a few nights a week at first, but plan to extend it in the future.
Some efforts are truly awe-inspiring. We hope that readers may get encouraged to do their share to help out the homeless, a little help goes a long way.