Back the bus and give homeless people in Portsmouth a shelter

(L-r) Stephen Thorpe and Gordon Frost from Stagecoach with organiser Jo Vines   Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (170338-1)
(L-r) Stephen Thorpe and Gordon Frost from Stagecoach with organiser Jo Vines Picture: Ian Hargreaves (170338-1)
Southsea seafront Picture: Shaun Roster

Plans to build new sea defences along Southsea seafront given £6m cash boost

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Today The News is backing the bus – a new project to see a double-decker bus turned into a homeless shelter.

This brilliant initiative was launched by Joanne Vines, founder of the Rucksack Project, and we are calling on our readers to get on board and show their support for the scheme.

More than £2,000 has already been donated by members of the public which is fantastic.

Joanne Vines

Joanne has been given the bus by Stagecoach and she wants to turn it into a place where homeless people can cook, wash and sleep.

But to kit the bus out with beds, showers, a kitchen and toilets, Joanne needs support from businesses and people in Portsmouth and the surrounding area.

Joanne, from Gosport, said: ‘Homelessness can happen to anyone in any walk of life.

‘Giving something back and helping those on the streets is something anyone can do.

‘Expanding on the Rucksack Project was something I thought about doing in the new year and five weeks ago I started trying to get a bus to become a shelter for the homeless.

‘It is something I had seen done elsewhere and thought it was a great idea.

‘We were given the bus by Stagecoach after a couple of companies showed an interest and, so far, a few businesses have got involved to offer insulation, a kitchen and plumbing.

‘But we still need tradesman to help out with electricity, building and other parts of the project.

‘More than £2,000 has already been donated by members of the public, which is fantastic.’

Originally, Joanne had given herself 10 months to get the bus up and running. But because the vehicle has already been donated and money has started rolling in, she now hopes to have it ready by September.

Once finished, it will have space for 12 beds, adding to the 40 beds for homeless people already available in Portsmouth.

Joanne added: ‘The 40 beds in the city are always at capacity and we wanted to do our bit to help by doing something different. This project isn’t just about me but the whole community.

‘The Rucksack Project is a not-for-profit organisation and we rely solely on donations and the generosity of others.

‘We rely on community support and it is something that Portsmouth is really good at doing.’

Flick Drummond, Portsmouth South MP, welcomed the move but said it needed to form part of the city’s main homeless support network.

She said: ‘This is a fantastic idea, particularly in our crowded city. Anything that gets people off the streets and gets them a bed for the night is excellent.’

A family fundraising event is being held to boost donations for the project.

An evening full of entertainment, music, a raffle and auction is taking place on June 2 at the Royal Naval Old Comrades Club on Lake Road.

It starts at 7.30pm and tickets are £3 per person.

MP WANTS TEAMS TO WORK AS SINGLE UNIT

The plight of the area’s homeless people is something that is close to the hearts of those working at The News.

And kindhearted readers have never failed to show their support for our efforts to help brighten up the lives of those living rough on the streets.

Only a few months ago, dozens of people rallied to back The News’s Show Them You Care This Christmas campaign (right).

They donated hundreds of items of clothing, countless tins of food, as well as toiletries, boots and even a couple of new sleeping bags.

But this is not the first time the community in the Portsmouth area has shown its kindness and willingness to help those less fortunate.

The News has carried countless front page stories on people’s efforts to care for the area’s most vulnerable.

In March 2016, we reported how the plight of the homeless had reached crisis levels, with statistics at the time suggesting the number of people affected had worsened significantly since 2011.

That news prompted a number of people to set up community action groups in the area.

Now Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond is seeking to unite all these teams and get them working as a single unit.

WE’RE RUNNING FOR THE BUS

Following on from our Show Them You Care This Christmas campaign, we are supporting Joanne Vines and her project to turn a bus into a homeless shelter.

Over the past few months we have reported on homelessness problems in Portsmouth and we want to carry on playing our part to help people living on the streets.

To help boost donations for the bus project, members of The News’ editorial team will be completing a relay race around the lake at 1000 Lakeside, North Harbour, covering the equivalent distance of a marathon.

We hope to raise £1,000 with our Running For The Bus event.

Editor of The News Mark Waldron said: ‘We want to show our support to Joanne and her fantastic project. Please donate so we can raise as much as possible.’

To make a donation visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/TheNews-runningforthebus