How Norwich’s SOS bus helps more than just drunk people

The SOS Bus team.

The SOS Bus team. - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

The pioneering SOS Bus project was launched out of tragedy in 2001 following the river deaths of James Toms and Nick Green in the city.

SOS Bus on Prince of Wales Road, Norwich on a Saturday night.

SOS Bus on Prince of Wales Road, Norwich on a Saturday night. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

The scheme offered a place of safety in Prince of Wales Road – the heart of the city's clubland – and in the past decade and a half has helped more than 10,000 people.

Many of those people are intoxicated, but the bus is there for anyone who needs help on a Friday and Saturday night in the city and deals with much more than just alcohol-related problems.

Jenny Smith, SOS Bus co-ordinator, said: 'The SOS Bus and medical unit offers a vital service to anyone in Norwich on a Friday and Saturday night.

'Our volunteers offer a safe haven and act as the first point of contact for those whose wellbeing is threatened by an inability to get home, illness or injury, emotional distress or other vulnerability.'

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In 2008 the old SOS bus was replaced with a new vehicle and also a medical support unit, complete with a paramedic, which has helped save over 1,200 A&E admissions since then and also saved £274,000 per year in ambulance visits to A&E over the same period.

To demonstrate the scope of the SOS bus the Open Youth Trust, which runs the project, has today revealed statistics about those who have used the safe haven since 2008.

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Anyone who can help the project should email sosbus@opennorwich.org.uk or call 01603 252116.

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