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Is it time businesses paid a levy to keep Norwich’s SOS Bus going?

PUBLISHED: 09:12 17 February 2017 | UPDATED: 09:12 17 February 2017

SOS Bus on Prince of Wales Road, Norwich on a Saturday night.

SOS Bus on Prince of Wales Road, Norwich on a Saturday night.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

‘The chances are that if you haven’t been in that position yourself, someone close to you probably has.’

That is what a group of Norfolk’s business leaders were told this week during a very absorbing presentation I attended by two volunteers at Norwich’s SOS Bus.

They were describing one of the many reasons they, and many others, are prepared to give up weekend after weekend to help those who are either worse for wear or vulnerable in Norwich city centre.

The SOS Bus was set up many years ago following the deaths of two young people in the city centre, where alcohol was found to be a contributing factor.

It’s aim is to provide a safe haven for those who are in a vulnerable position, look after them and make sure they get home safely.

In 2016 I was lucky enough to spend a night on the bus for the Saturday of Halloween, their busiest evening of the year.

While shocked by just how busy they were, a flow of people from 10pm up until about 7am, what was more impressive was the volunteers themselves.

At no stage did they judge the people they were helping, they just got on with the job in hand and gave aid.

“You wouldn’t ignore someone who chose to play football but hurt themselves, so why shouldn’t we help someone who has chosen to drink, but found themselves in a spot of bother?” was how one of the volunteers put it.

Thanks to the SOS Bus hundreds of people are not only supported during their hour of need, but also kept out of our over-flowing hospitals.

The night I was there they went to pick up a young woman who was comatose and alone on the ring road, proof they are about more than just providing a bowl upon which to lay a sickly head.

They are a vital service, that shouldn’t be in doubt, yet like all charities they face a constant battle to get the funds needed to carry on. They also have grand plans to become an educational tool to stop people getting in these situations in the first place.

I do wonder if it’s time our pubs and clubs we’re made to put their hands in their pockets and contribute financially to help the service continue to thrive?

12 comments

  • The root of the problem was the introduction of the continental, open all night, licensing laws. However well it works abroad, this is the UK, a nation of twits who love a scrap and criminal damage. Letting people drink through the night and attend night clubs until 0500 and 0600 in the morning, along with the kebab houses was a recipe for disaster. As mentioned already, people are tanked up on alcohol even before they enter a club well after midnight. There used to be scraps between 0200 and 0300 in the 70's and 80's and then all would be relatively peaceful. Also the clubs were in different areas, such as Edward Street, Anglia Square, Tombland and Rose Lane. Problems in one area would disperse whereas now trouble outside Fluke, for instance, could flare up again moments later outside Tesco's ATM, just up the road. Shut the clubs at 0200 and kebab houses at 0230 and see the reduction in trouble and need for the SOS bus.

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    NorwichAbs

    Saturday, February 18, 2017

  • People are drunk on supermarket alcohol before they even arrive in the city centre, how on earth do you make them contribute? In theory publicans should not sell alcohol to anyone who is already intoxicated, i don't think I've ever seen anyone refused a drink.

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    itsme73

    Saturday, February 18, 2017

  • Actually Tootyfrooty I do agree with you. The trouble is the boundaries are being pushed ever further, especially in terms of the **** these youngsters put down their necks and up their nostrils. Few people are more live and let live than me, but I honestly don't know how to react to somebody collapsed in a heap when their mate says: "It's alright, it's only Special K". That's Ketamine, which is a horse tranquiliser for crying out loud. No, we shouldn't have to pick up the pieces. Drink, do a bit of weed, maybe speed a bit - most of us have done it, as have our kids. But this new generation of muck on the streets is virtually impossible to deal with. It's hard to be responsible for yourself when you've taken enough **** to lay out Red Rum! Chinese Rocks, legal highs with unknown content and the rest of them are all out there - don't be fooled by a tailored shirt and a fistful of fivers.

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    el dingo

    Friday, February 17, 2017

  • El Dingo, but why should others have to pick up the tab for people who choose to behave in such a reckless way? The analogy offered in the article of the footballer hurting himself not being denied treatment is a red herring. A footballer plays the game with the purpose of having a harmless activity which if anything improves the health of the player. If he gets injured then is a rare "occupational hazard" and rarely requires life saving treatment. The idiot who drinks to oblivion or pops pills does so with the reckless knowledge that there is a very high chance of him having an incident - possibly a life threatening one. However, good old EEA service will be there.... People must start to take more responsibility for their own actions.

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    Tootyfrooty

    Friday, February 17, 2017

  • In my boozing days if someone had too much the rest of us would look after the person and get them home safely. Look after your mates.

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    Suffolk Exile

    Friday, February 17, 2017

  • The worst thing they did was bring in breath testing for clubs. They just switched to cocaine etc. I see the dealers all the while down there. I tell the Police, they do nothing. Check the backs of the clubbers phones, that's what they snort it off.

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    Resident Smith

    Friday, February 17, 2017

  • Bruce, no one is saying they do not do a good job. The point is that if people behave responsibly there would be no need for it. No one needs to drink to excess, especially to the extent that some do.

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    andy

    Friday, February 17, 2017

  • Tootyfrooty: you'd have a point in an ideal world but some of this lot are off their faces on ketamine, coke and crack mate, not a few pints of twos. I see them walking out as I walk back from a Carrow Road night match - I can look after myself to an extent but PoW is potentially downright nasty. Everything is faster - ie they get out of their heads on extreme substances even I've never heard of, let alone indulged in, and that's really saying something. If only it were all about alcohol. It isn't.

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    el dingo

    Friday, February 17, 2017

  • Ignorant and selfish comments. Yes the SOS bus is a wonderful facility, together with the incredible volunteers who are prepared to give up their time and skill, we should do everything we can to carry it on, including asking the pubs and clubs to make a contribution.

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    Bruce87

    Friday, February 17, 2017

  • The SOS bus shouldn't be there in the first place. As mentioned the over 18's need to grow up and take responsibility for their actions. The clubs will never pay for it, they don't pay for much else either. The Council are toothless to make them anyway.

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    Resident Smith

    Friday, February 17, 2017

  • How about a levy on those who get drunk and use the facility? Also reduce the opening hours to reduce the problem in the first place.

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    andy

    Friday, February 17, 2017

  • Personally I believe that we should return to the days where people took responsibility for their own actions a little bit more and also when people looked out for their mates instead of expecting someone else to do it for them. Insofar as licenced premises paying for such a nanny state provision then so long as I personally dont have to pay through my tax then I dont really care how it is funded. The police and ambulance services attending incidents around the so called night time enconomy ought to be funded by the licenced premises though.

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    Tootyfrooty

    Friday, February 17, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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