Portsmouth councillors back project to convert bus into homeless shelter

From left, Cllr Paul Godier; Cllr Steve Wemyss; Cllr Robert New; Cllr Jim Fleming; Cllr Jennie Brent; Cllr Donne Jones; Rucksack Project's Joanne Vines; Cllr Luke Stubbs; Cllr Linda Symes; Rucksack Project's Sammy Barcroft; Portsmouth City Council's housing options manager Elaine Bastable
From left, Cllr Paul Godier; Cllr Steve Wemyss; Cllr Robert New; Cllr Jim Fleming; Cllr Jennie Brent; Cllr Donne Jones; Rucksack Project's Joanne Vines; Cllr Luke Stubbs; Cllr Linda Symes; Rucksack Project's Sammy Barcroft; Portsmouth City Council's housing options manager Elaine Bastable

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AMBITIOUS plans to transform a double-decker bus into a new homeless shelter have won the backing of Portsmouth City Council.

The authority is the latest organisation to throw its weight behind the Rucksack Project’s scheme.

Left to right: Cllr Paul Godier; Cllr Steve Wemyss; Cllr Robert New; Cllr Jim Fleming; Cllr Jennie Brent; Cllr Donne Jones; Rucksack Project's Joanne Vines; Cllr Luke Stubbs; Cllr Linda Symes; Rucksack Project's Sammy Barcroft; Portsmouth City Council's housing options manager Elaine Bastable.

Left to right: Cllr Paul Godier; Cllr Steve Wemyss; Cllr Robert New; Cllr Jim Fleming; Cllr Jennie Brent; Cllr Donne Jones; Rucksack Project's Joanne Vines; Cllr Luke Stubbs; Cllr Linda Symes; Rucksack Project's Sammy Barcroft; Portsmouth City Council's housing options manager Elaine Bastable.

The bus, donated by Stagecoach, will be fitted out with beds, showers, a kitchen and toilets and aims to offer a fresh space for the homeless in Portsmouth to seek refuge.

Now councillors have visited the bus to learn more about the plan and are pledging to help by assisting future operators with things like finding a location and helping with any necessary applications.

Joanne Vines, founder of the Rucksack Project, said: ‘It is fantastic that the city council is supporting this project.

‘The council’s help takes us a big step closer to realising our vision for the bus.’

City council boss Donna Jones said that she 
was ‘delighted’ to back the project.

‘Homelessness is an issue we take extremely seriously and have recently made improvements to the support available to people by 
bringing our substance misuse and homelessness support provisions together,’ she said.

‘The solutions aren’t always easy in supporting homeless people into long-term accommodation and can take time.

‘But we’re absolutely committed to ensuring people from the city of Portsmouth get a first-class service to help them through their difficult time and into a secure accommodation to improve the outcomes for the rest of their lives.’

Cllr Jones pledged the authority would help ‘pave the way’ by helping to find a base for the bus.

To donate to the project or for more details, search ‘The Bus Rucksack Event 2017’, at crowdfunder.co.uk.