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Norwich coroner praises SOS Bus

PUBLISHED: 18:56 11 April 2011

Coroner William Armstrong.

Coroner William Armstrong.

Archant

The work of Norwich's life-saving SOS Bus, which celebrates its 10th anniversary later this month, has today been hailed by the city's coroner.

Since it was set up in April 2001 following the river deaths of Nick Green, 16, and James Toms, 21, the pioneering scheme, which was set up as a safe haven for the drunk and vulnerable, has helped a total of almost 6,500 people.

But in order to continue to provide a safe haven for drunk and vulnerable people for the next decade and beyond, the project is dependent upon members of the public continuing to support it.

William Armstrong, pictured, Greater Norfolk coroner, has backed project leaders in their call for people to ensure that the scheme generates the funds it needs to keep on the streets every weekend.

He said: “The impetus for this initiative came about after the inquest into the death of Nick Green, which I dealt with on March 27, 2001.

“The tragedy which unfolded at this inquest highlighted the need for a more creative and imaginative approach to the whole problem of people getting into difficulties after drinking heavily in the city centre – in particular in the region of the river.

“The SOS Bus has performed an extremely important function in addressing this in a positive and constructive way. I have, of course, had first-hand experience of being on the bus, meeting those involved and seeing the operation at work. It is vital that this service continues.”

The original bus, which was set up following the Evening News’s Home Safe and Sound campaign which called for a safe haven in the city, was replaced in November 2008 by two new state-of-the-art vehicles – including one medical unit – which continue to offer a vital lifeline for thousands of people in the city every week.

But despite being part-funded by the NHS, the buses cost £2,500 a month to keep on the road and earlier this month project bosses issued a plea for the public and businesses in the city to continue to support it.

Sarah Mintey, principal of the Open Youth Trust, which operates and manages the bus, said: “For us to continue in the way that we have done and be as successful as we have done we need that generosity to continue in the future.”

To find out more about the SOS Bus project or how you can donate or volunteer call 01603 763111 or log onto www.sosbus.co.uk/

Have you been helped by the bus? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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