About Us

The Bus Shelter IOW

Our Vision: To end the need for people sleeping rough on the Isle of Wight

Our Mission: To provide safe overnight accommodation for people sleeping rough on the Isle of Wight

Our Mantra: Sleep is only the beginning

The Bus Shelter IOW 

The Bus Shelter IOW is registered with the Charity Commission. The Charity was set up to end the need for anyone from the Isle of Wight  to sleep rough. Since the night shelter closed in February 2016 we have been trying to source a new building but that has proved to be to expensive. So we thought outside the box and decided to buy a double decker bus and convert it.

The bus was purchased from York and delivered to the Island. She is 18 years old and her engine is reportedly only 3 years old. We raised £7000 in 2 weeks to buy her. The bus provides temporary accommodation for up to 16 rough sleepers on the Island.

She is based central to Newport Isle of Wight. The bus is stationary but can be moved and a minibus is driven from there by our volunteer bus drivers, to Shanklin, Sandown, Ryde and Newport. The minibus has designated stops with a 20 minute window either side.

We  feed our guests and they relax in the evening. Everyone is expected to be in bed by 11pm and up and dressed by 9am. Anyone who misses the bus can still come to the base upto 11pm. We perform the collection run until we get an empty run. In reality, anyone new would go to the council to register as homeless and then be signposted to us if nothing else is available.

There is an expectation that everyone who uses the services of The Bus Shelter IOW will also register as homeless with the IOW Council

As our Mantra says ” Sleep is only the beginning”. Everyone who sleeps on board needs to meet the residency or local family connection criteria of the local council housing department or have been homeless on the island for 6 months, to sign up to The Bus Shelter IOW program, be willing to abide by the rules and accept the help provided.

The rules are :
1: No Drinking, Drugs or Smoking on the bus.
2: No Drinking or Drugs around the bus site.
3: Each Guest must be up by 9am and in bed by 11pm.
4: Each Guest must engage with the relevant outreach service
5: Each Guest must participate in voluntary or paid work when ready.
6: All guests must be respectful of all other guests and volunteers.

We are expecting to have the following services engage with us: Housing options, Benefits, Physical and Mental Health, Samaritans, Life Coaching, help with reading and writing and Job searching.

We are now a registered charity and intend to open a charity shop for the homeless and encourage them to volunteer in the shop. We also have allotments available and will encourage them to work these as a therapeutic activity. The option to volunteer at the Apire, Ryde is also available. In the future we hope to open a waste food sandwich shop, similar to the Social Bites shops in Scotland. The shop is run by the homeless people with supervision and 100% of profits go to the homeless employees to help save for deposits and pay rents.

Our aim is to break the cycle and routine of homelessness and allow the homeless people to regain their dignity and place in society. When a person is found permanent accommodation, we follow up the support with a mentoring scheme. Helping them with budgeting and offering emotional support.

We do not charge our guests for providing this service has we will not have someone’s lack of finance be a hurdle to them being accommodated with us.

The Bus:

From the front where the driver is, is a door into the lounge/ kitchen area. On the right is a fitted kitchen with one of the windows opening outwards to allow serving outside. This is followed by seating areas, which are divided up with partitions. These seating areas are used by the services coming onboard, for the guests of the bus to have their meals and then at night, the tables drop down and create 4 beds. The rear 2 beds are for guests and front 2 for volunteers.

There is a door cut into the side of the bus which leads into the toilet/ shower trailer. Next to the door is additional seating and a multi fuel burner. This leads to the stairs to the upper deck. Upstairs towards the front on the right, is a chemical toilet/ changing area. On the left is 8 bunk pods and 6 more on the right side. Under the bunks is storage for guests belongings.

There is additional storage space at the rear of the bus. The bus is powered by solar panels on the roof of the trailer. Wifi is available onboard via a router.

On the opposite side of the bus from the trailer is an awning attached to a pull out canopy on the bus. This will provide vital additional seating space outside.

Each pod has its own curtain for privacy and low voltage LED lighting, which is controlled by each guest. Each pod will also have a usb socket. The bunks consist of mattress, with 2 sheets, duvet , 2 pillows and additional blankets if needed. There is no sleeping bags and no sleeping in clothes.

Each of the guests signs up for The Bus Shelter IOW program and is allocated a bunk pod on licence for a week at a time. If the person stays longer than a week, then their licence on that pod, is automatically renewed. If some one leaves mid week and doesn’t return on licence renewal day, then that pod is reallocated. This not only helps with laundry, which is washed, off site, every week but as each bunk pod is numbered, the guest gets an address and a sense of security. Each guest has an address to get benefits, register with medical services and housing. If the pods are full then overflow tents are available.

The bus is staffed by volunteers. The 3 volunteer shifts are 9am – 2pm / 2pm – 7pm / 7pm – 11pm + 8am – 9am

We can not say that we will end rough sleeping on the island, only The NEED to sleep rough on the Island for Island people. We can offer the support and facilities but if a person doesn’t want to change then we can’t do anything about it. If someone doesn’t abide by the rules, they are asked to desist or leave. If they leave, they only leave as far as a tent next to the bus and only for the night. They still get to use all the services and facilities that we offer but don’t sleep on the bus. Our guests safety and security is paramount. Every night, they are given the same chance and support offered to solve the issue.

The support of the homeless community that is created on the bus, is a unique project and being a mobile hostel makes it the first in the world. A massive coup for the Isle of Wight!

Other homeless projects involving buses exist but they either provide food, accommodation or services but not everything under one roof.

We are The Bus Shelter IOW.

If you would like to be part of this exciting project then feel free to contact us.

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