SOS bus returns to Norwich city centre

The SOS Bus will be back in operation in Norwich from Saturday, April 17.

The SOS Bus will be back in operation in Norwich from Saturday, April 17. - Credit: SOS Bus

Norwich's SOS Bus will return on Saturday to help people who require emergency care on the first weekend since pubs and restaurants reopened.

Volunteers were last in the Prince of Wales Road area four months ago on New Year's Eve, but will be back between 9.30pm and 1.30am.

Police have appealed to pub garden revellers to follow landlords' advice on the first weekend since reopening and the bus's head said volunteers would roll with it on Saturday evening.

Beth Williams, SOS Bus development manager, said: "I have two conflicting emotions.

"I'm nervous - it's the unknown because we never know what's going to happen on a shift. But I am excited to see the team and the feeling of doing something.

"It's the same with the people in the team, they are doers, they want to get out and help. 

"It will be busier than it was at the end of last year, there isn't a curfew, they can mix households and there's Norwich [possible promotion].

"It will be busier than we saw at the end of last year, but it will not be as busy as it was pre-Covid."

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In 2020, the bus carried out 33 shifts compared to its usual 104.

The bus will continue to offer full paramedic and first aid services, though social distancing requirements will limit the numbers to be seen at any one time aboard the bus.

Ms Williams said the bus's aim was to reduce unnecessary ambulance callouts, with only a third of its responses to those who were drunk, with volunteers supporting those who may have lost their phone, friends, feel unsafe or become ill or destressed.

The SOS Bus's support vehicle will not be in operation at this time.

The service is looking for more volunteers, including those with a category C driving licence who can help drive the bus.

Ms Williams said they would be hard pushed to run both Friday and Saturday with current volunteer numbers.

Anyone needing assistance should walk to the main SOS Bus which will be in its usual location at the bottom of Prince of Wales Road or preferably call the SOS Bus in advance 07833 505505 to check there is capacity on the bus to attend to their needs.