London buses transformed to support rough sleepers with essential services
- Credit: Change Please
Two refurbished London buses are hitting the roads in Hackney today (December 9) to give free dental care, GP consultations, haircuts, showers and coffee to rough sleepers.
The buses are being rolled out as part of the Driving for Change initiative, set up by coffee company Change Please.
The social enterprise trains people experiencing homelessness to become baristas, providing them a London-living wage job, housing, a bank account and therapy.
Founder of Change Please, Cemal Ezel, said: "We know Christmas is the hardest time of the year for many experiencing homelessness, not only is the weather at its coldest, the festive season can often bring memories of unhappiness and heartbreak to many.
"While this Christmas will be different for countless reasons, Driving for Change will be a constant support for the most vulnerable.
"Our all-in-one, direct services will bring crucial assistance to those close to breaking point, providing long-term solutions that will give people a real chance to get their life back."
The Driving for Change initiative, backed by sponsors HSBC UK, Colgate and Mastercard, will support more than 3,000 people a year sleeping rough on the capital's streets.
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The buses, which will also offer therapy, employment support and help with financial literacy for people experiencing homeless, will run for at least two years.
The project also has aims to expand nationwide, then abroad to Paris and the United States.
According to data sourced by the Observer, as of June this year, an estimated 130,000 households were made homeless due to the pandemic.
The latest government statistics, show that over the past year 268,560 households had either experienced homelessness or were at risk, a 16.2 percent increase from 2018-19.
Cllr Sade Etti, Hackney Council's mayoral advisor for Homelessness and Housing Needs, said: “We’re delighted to see the Driving For Change buses in Hackney bringing much-needed services directly to our homeless community, who are especially vulnerable over the cold winter months."
The Driving for Change initiative, which also involved East London NHS Foundation, was launched in October.