London buses transformed to support rough sleepers with essential services

Two Driving for Change buses will hit the roads in Hackney to support rough sleepers in the borough and across the capital

Two Driving for Change buses will hit the roads in Hackney to support rough sleepers in the borough and across the capital - 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. 

Inside one of two buses turned into one-stop essential service depots for rough sleepers

Inside one of two buses turned into one-stop essential service depots for rough sleepers - Credit: Change Please

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."

People experiencing homelessness will be offered free haircuts on the buses

People experiencing homelessness will be offered free haircuts on the buses - Credit: Change Please

Showers on the driving for change buses

Showers on the Driving for Change buses - Credit: Change Please

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.

Most Read

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. 

A mobile dentist will be available for check-ups on the double decker buses

A mobile dentist will be available for check-ups on the double decker buses - Credit: Change Please

The Driving for Change team who will be supporting people experiencing homelessness

The Driving for Change team who will be supporting people experiencing homelessness - Credit: Change Please

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.

The double decker buses will run for a minimum of two years

The double decker buses will run for a minimum of two years - Credit: Change Please

The buses will also offer therapy to people seeking help

The buses will also offer therapy to people seeking help - Credit: Change Please

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.