According to the UN’s figures, around 1.1 billion people are homeless, representing over 14 percent of the world’s total population. While this staggering number is hard to tackle all at once, something could be done on a case-by-case basis. And that’s what Buses4Homeless is all about.
Founded in 2018, the UK-based NGO is providing a low-cost solution to temporary housing, using decommissioned London double-deckers that have been transformed into shelters. The project started with a few buses donated by Stagecoach — featuring 16 beds, a 32-seat restaurant, online desk space and a “holistic wellbeing space”, along with 24-hour expert support.
With all this, Buses4Homeless aims to provide a cost-effective, safety net and stepping stone between the night shelters and longer-term permanent housing solutions.
To that end, it is also partnering with other parties — such as King’s College London, Laura Ashley as well as local restaurants, chefs, architects, and construction companies — to offer more than a shelter and meals, to equip guests with the skills and confidence to move to a life beyond the street.
The project consists of 4 parts, including:
- Bus4Shelter, offering a space to sleep for up to 20 people per night;
- Bus4Dining, with a mobile soup kitchen offering hot meals and a safe place to eat as it drives around London;
- Bus4Learning, that is a go-to place for learning opportunities, kitted out with computers that will be used for guests to work towards vocational qualifications; and
- Bus4Wellness, which provides holistic support that will help users rejuvenate their lives.
Buses4Homeless also works with the Metropolitan Police to keep residents safe.
Places on the bus are offered on a three-month basis, forming an intensive support program to allow people to improve their physical and mental wellbeing, and learn the skills they need to get back on their feet.
Also, anyone offered shelter on the bus is encouraged to do a good deed within the community — anything from volunteering with a local charity to helping paint the fences for a local church.
It consists of 4 parts: Bus4Shelter with 16 bunk beds to provide a safe & warm night's rest, Bus4Dining with a commercial kitchen on the lower level and dining on the upper, Bus4Learning with computers & learning space to teach soft & vocational skills to guests, and Bus4Wellness to aide their mental health and development.
The Buses4Homeless project provides an affordable template for helping solve the homelessness problem in a city. It won't completely eradicate homelessness (and which solution will?) but could be used to find at least a temporary shelter for a few dozen individuals, and more importantly - help them turn their lives around. That's where the Bus4Learning part kicks in, providing the homeless with new skills to get up on their feet. It's not a major political win, but it could be an important project to help drive one's career forward.
A company could pitch a project similar to Buses4Homeless to local authorities, providing them with an affordable "shelter solution" for the homeless people. From there, the same company could potentially score a contract to run this place which involves providing the homeless people with meals and education. And if everything goes as planned, scale up the project to accept more people and perhaps expand it to other cities and areas throughout the country.