London, 7 Oct. 2021 – No, it isn’t a usual bus: it’s a shower, a PC station, a clothes change hub, a haircut point, a dentist, a GP virtual visit which will lead to further health support if needed. Some iconic London double decker will start riding the streets to help at least 3.000 homeless thanks to the charity Change Please. The initiative Driving For Change in collaboration with City Hall is also sponsored by Colgate, HSBC UK and Mastercard UK & Ireland. From 2022 the buses will be also able to start offering coronavirus vaccinations, but this last service has still to be confirmed.
What is also important about this service to the most vulnerable, is that it does not limit to a short term relief, but sets the ground to get London rough sleepers off the spiral of homelessness by accessing benefits and consequently job support to reintegrate into the society.
The first step is giving them financial advice and setting a bank account in order to claim benefits, but homeless cannot do this because a residence address is required, and that’s where HSBC comes into play with its No fixed address service, allowing homeless to open an account through a charity to access state support.
But how rough sleepers can take this bus? They just need to send a text message to book the one stop in their area. The buses will run six days a week for two years, with each bus able to take in six people a day.
“Many people across our city trust our buses, many rough sleepers will be really happy to come into these buses because they know buses provide an essential service.” said the mayor Sadiq Khan to PA news agency, rising also his concerns that “more and more Londoners will be driven to poverty, and that’s why it’s so important for great charities and social enterprises help” right when the Universal Credit 20£ a week benefit Covid integration has now been cut by the Conservative government amid widespread outcry. “Actually it’s the job of the Government to step in and provide that safety net” Khan pointed out.
The project could go international as could also be rolled out in Paris and the United States.