Is it time businesses paid a levy to keep Norwich’s SOS Bus going?
09:12 17 February 2017
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?