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City’s pioneering SOS Bus in need of YOUR help to keep it moving

PUBLISHED: 06:30 24 October 2020

Norwich's SOS Bus. Photo: Emily Thomson

Norwich's SOS Bus. Photo: Emily Thomson

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It has offered a safe haven to pub and club goers in the city for almost two decades and now it needs your help.

Scenes in Norwich on Black Friday with the SOS Bus and emergency services. Photo: Emily ThomsonScenes in Norwich on Black Friday with the SOS Bus and emergency services. Photo: Emily Thomson

Norwich’s pioneering SOS Bus has helped well over 11,500 people since it was launched in 2001 following the river deaths of James Toms, 21, and Nick Green, 16, in the city.

But the bus is looking for help of its own at the moment after an SOS was launched for more volunteer drivers to help keep the vital service operating.

Beth Williams, SOS Bus development manager said: “Although many pubs and clubs in Norwich are currently operating with restricted hours or early closing times, the SOS Bus continues to be on hand on Saturday nights from 7-11pm, with a dedicated team of volunteers, first aiders, a paramedic and a security officer looking after the health, wellbeing and safety of people visiting the city.

“When not in operation, the Main SOS Bus is stored at Castle Quarter and, for each and every shift, we rely on volunteers to drive the Bus from its base there, to its on-shift location on Prince of Wales Road, and then return it again at the end of the session.

“It is less than half a mile in distance but the role is far-reaching in its importance; without volunteer drivers the Bus will not be in place and available to help those in need.”

Drivers need to be over 25 and hold a current Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification for at least a year.

Having been run by the Open Youth Trust for 11 years, in April last year the management of the bus - which parks on Prince of Wales Road, towards the train station, on Friday and Saturday nights - was taken over by Voluntary Norfolk.

As well as supporting those who have had too much to drink, the bus is also used to assess people with medical concerns, hand out water, plasters and safety pins, sell flip flops, offer vulnerable people a safe haven and provide a safe place to wait for a taxi.

Some people will arrive just to talk, sometimes about their mental health - or sit and wait while charging their phones.

Seven volunteers, including two St John Ambulance members, a dedicated security member and paramedic, staff the bus on each shift.

Go to https://sosbus.co.uk/volunteer/ to find out more details about becoming a volunteer driver for the project.


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