Is it time businesses paid a levy to keep Norwich’s SOS Bus going?
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011
'The chances are that if you haven't been in that position yourself, someone close to you probably has.'
That is what a group of Norfolk's business leaders were told this week during a very absorbing presentation I attended by two volunteers at Norwich's SOS Bus.
They were describing one of the many reasons they, and many others, are prepared to give up weekend after weekend to help those who are either worse for wear or vulnerable in Norwich city centre.
The SOS Bus was set up many years ago following the deaths of two young people in the city centre, where alcohol was found to be a contributing factor.
It's aim is to provide a safe haven for those who are in a vulnerable position, look after them and make sure they get home safely.
In 2016 I was lucky enough to spend a night on the bus for the Saturday of Halloween, their busiest evening of the year.
While shocked by just how busy they were, a flow of people from 10pm up until about 7am, what was more impressive was the volunteers themselves.
- 1 ‘Porn addict’ Norfolk doctor who secretly filmed women struck off
- 2 Rare insect spotted in Norfolk for first time in nearly 100 years
- 3 5 famous faces who were born in King's Lynn
- 4 Norwich street named one of the most beautiful in the world
- 5 Mystery of container ships at anchor off Suffolk coast solved
- 6 Norfolk fish and chip shop named one of the 10 best in the UK
- 7 Woman’s death prompts ‘significant dangers’ warning over A11 cycle races
- 8 Seven people arrested after 50 vehicles stopped by police at Thickthorn
- 9 Norfolk start-up taking on retail giant Amazon
- 10 Vandals smash charity dinosaur trail T.rex and leave kebab in its mouth
At no stage did they judge the people they were helping, they just got on with the job in hand and gave aid.
'You wouldn't ignore someone who chose to play football but hurt themselves, so why shouldn't we help someone who has chosen to drink, but found themselves in a spot of bother?' was how one of the volunteers put it.
Thanks to the SOS Bus hundreds of people are not only supported during their hour of need, but also kept out of our over-flowing hospitals.
The night I was there they went to pick up a young woman who was comatose and alone on the ring road, proof they are about more than just providing a bowl upon which to lay a sickly head.
They are a vital service, that shouldn't be in doubt, yet like all charities they face a constant battle to get the funds needed to carry on. They also have grand plans to become an educational tool to stop people getting in these situations in the first place.
I do wonder if it's time our pubs and clubs we're made to put their hands in their pockets and contribute financially to help the service continue to thrive?