Delight as Portsmouth’s homeless bus secures permanent home at city centre church

Members of Fareham Men's Shed help the bus project earlier this year - Mike Foster, left, and Tony Crane

THE city’s first-ever homeless bus has found a permanent home.

After months of extensive work, the ex-Stagecoach double decker will be based at St Agatha’s Church in Hope Street, Landport.

Joanne Vines

Joanne Vines and Sammy Barcroft’s project aims to provide help and support for 40 of the city’s rough sleepers.

Donations and volunteers from many businesses across the area have seen the project leap forward with the bus set to be publicly launched in Fratton Park next month.

Earlier this year staff at The News, which is backing the project, held the Running for the Bus event and raised more than £800 towards the project by running more than 35 miles.

Ms Vines said St Agatha’s had convinced them that it would be ‘the perfect fit’ for the project.

We were approached by a number of organisations but St Agathas’ convinces us that it had the right people and environment to ensure the bus would be the service that we envisioned for it

Joanne Vines, one of the organisers of the project

She said: ‘It is absolutely amazing that our bus finally has her home.

‘We were approached by a number of organisations that St Agatha’s convinces us that it had the right people and environment to ensure the bus would be the service that we envisioned for it.

‘We are so pleased to have them on board and cannot wait to have the bus fully finished for Fratton Park.’

Father John Maunder, from St Agatha’s, said: ‘When I heard about this incredible community-based project, I knew this church could help by providing a base, because we are close to an existing group of rough sleepers and have the space to accommodate it.

‘What has been particularly impressive is the energy and support that Joanne and Sammy have received from people, organisations and companies.

‘Highbury College made the banks, Genie Acrylics for all the vinyls and GJC electricals for converting the bus electrics, to name a few.

‘This really has been a team effort, and everyone involved should feel extremely proud of their achievements.’

Since Joanne and her team of volunteers got hold of the bus, they have put in seats, bells and handles, put in a kitchen, bathroom space, added storage and installed electricity.

Churches across Portsmouth have sought to assist the rising numbers of homeless people in the city, with some offering beds for the night during the winter months as a pilot project.

The bus is all set for its official public opening at Fratton Park on Sunday, November 26.

Following the unveiling, the vehicle will be towed across the city to its resting spot at the church where it will reside for the foreseeable future.

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