On Friday, The Bus Shelter MK charity launched to the public and set out to deliver an innovative initiative to tackle the growing number of homeless people in Milton Keynes.
In partnership and part funded by intu Milton Keynes shopping centre, a double decker bus - an ex touring bus for stars such as Robbie Williams and Rod Stewart - will provide accommodation, self-catering, sanitation, advice and training to help homeless people go from ‘homelessness’ to ‘hope’.
The Mayor of Milton Keynes, Councillor David Hopkins helped to launch the bus and was joined on stage by the general manager of intu Milton Keynes, Shelley Peppard, Thomas Davis, the founder of The Bus Shelter MK and Pam Williams the chair of the charity.
MP Mark Lancaster was joined by Councillor Alex Walker in a show of support for the launch of the bus.
The charity has raised £10,000 to date, which has been used to purchase the bus but an additional £20,000 is needed to complete the project and welcome their first residents.
intu Milton Keynes will deliver several campaigns throughout the summer to help raise funds, including intu LIVE – a month-long programme of live busking in Oak Court.
However, the charity needs the support of local businesses and residents to help reach its target.
Pam Williams, chair of The Bus Shelter MK said: “We really do need the help and good will of local businesses and people in Milton Keynes to get the charity fully up and running and to help give people a fighting chance in life. If you can donate money or support in some way, please get in touch.”
The bus will provide a warm and safe place for people to sleep that will be open every day of the year. A separate bathroom and laundry unit will be parked alongside and residents will be given a mailing address so they can access medical services, apply for work etc.
It will be manned 24/7 with people willing to offer a “listening ear” so issues can be discussed and help will be given to find more permanent housing. Assistance to find employment and opportunities for personal development will be offered.
“Sleep is just the beginning,” says Thomas Davis.
“All many homeless people want is a chance to turn their life around and build a better future. It’s hard to find a job when you don’t have the right advice, professional support or even a postal address – the Bus Shelter MK will provide all of this.”
All this costs money and The Bus Shelter MK is appealing to local people and businesses to give whatever they can to help raise the essential funds. People can donate at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/thebusshelter-mk
Shelley Peppard, general manager at intu Milton Keynes said: “We are putting together a programme of events in the centre to help raise funds for The Bus Shelter MK but we really need the support of our Milton Keynes community to help get this project off the ground. There is a growing concern regarding homelessness in Milton Keynes and this is a fantastic initiative that will tackle the issue head on and most importantly, give people a brighter future.”
Last year, three homeless people tragically died while sleeping on the streets in Milton Keynes.
With the funding, The Bus Shelter will provide year-round temporary shelter for up to 16 people at a time – it will also provide accommodation for rough sleepers’ pet dogs when necessary.