Since 2006 the SOS Bus has provided a safe haven in Southend in the form of a converted double decker bus which is positioned in the town centre high street by McDonald's and Marks & Spencer between 9pm and 4am Friday and Saturday nights.
At the safe haven are first aiders, youth and voluntary workers with a selection of alcohol, drug and solvent abuse advisors.
The bus is equipped to enable basic first aid, counseling, and provides people with a safe environment until assistance is arranged, as well as literature on alcohol and drug education/intervention support services.
In 2011 Southend YMCA launched the Basildon SOS Bus, based at Festival Leisure Park near Liquid & Envy Nightclubs.
The team have a radio connecting them to the Town Link Radio System co-ordinated from the Towns CCTV control centre. They also have a mobile phone to contact parents, relatives, friends etc of vulnerable people and or support services.
A mobile support vehicle is used to collect vulnerable people from other parts of the town and take them to the SOS Bus. The support vehicle has contact with the bus via a mobile phone so everyone is aware of arising situations. The vehicle carries out regular patrols of the town centre ensuring presence also patrolling the vulnerable areas where people may wander to. On occasions it will be used to convey the vulnerable home – e.g. the very young.
Referrals to the Southend & Basildon SOS Bus' can be made by anyone; particularly partners in the project such as the local authority CCTV control centre, nightclubs and Essex Police.
All the volunteers are CRB checked and receive regular extensive training.
The project relies solely on public funding. None of the volunteers are paid by the project.
Statement of purpose:- To provide a safe haven for vulnerable people of all ages. The project is the first point of contact for those whose well-being is threatened by - inability to get home, illness, minor injury, emotional distress or other vulnerability including alcohol and drug misuse.
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