Ten years of Norwich SOS Bus - but it still needs your help
Help us keep the life-saving SOS Bus on the streets of Norwich - that is the rallying cry from project bosses and campaigners as the pioneering project reaches its 10th anniversary.
Since it was set up on the streets of Norwich in April 2001 the trailblazing scheme - which was set up as a safe haven for drunk and vulnerable people - has helped a total of almost 6,500 people.
And now those involved in the project - together with those helped by it - have issued a plea for support from the public to ensure that it is here for another decade and beyond.
To mark 10 years of the SOS Bus in Norwich the Evening News is on Monday kicking off a six-part series which charts the remarkable story of the pioneering project.
The original bus, which was set up following the river deaths of Nick Green, 16, and James Toms, 21, and the Evening News's Home Safe and Sound campaign, was replaced in November 2008 by two new state-of-the-art vehicles - including one medical unit - which continue to prove a vital lifeline for thousands of people in the city every week.
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But despite being part-funded by the NHS, the buses cost �2,500 a month to keep on the road and project bosses have 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: 'The bus has been there for such a long time that people expect it to be there and we at the Open Youth Trust are committed to seeing it stay here for another 10 years and beyond but in order for that to happen we're dependent on the generosity of the public and other organisations who have so generously given to the project in previous years.
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'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.'
Miss Mintey said she would like to be able to see the bus expand its activities to provide an educational role during the week as well as a life-saving one at weekends.
'The way forward for the bus, if I was dreaming dreams, would be to have more of an educational project running from the vehicle. We would like to have another arm for younger people with a couple of youth workers - I just think that education message would be invaluable.'
See tomorrow's Evening News to discover how the project first arrived in the city following a series of river tragedies.
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/
To contact the SOS Bus's emergency number call 07833 505505.
To sponsor the bike ride to Amsterdam, log on to www.justgiving.com/sos-savedourstanners.
Have you been helped by the SOS Bus? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email email@example.com