Norwich’s lifesaving SOS Bus needs your help this winter

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

They have helped more than 10,000 people over 15 years in Norwich's clubland. Now the heroes who run the SOS Bus need your help.

SOS Bus co-ordinator, Harriet Davies, shows off some flip flops

SOS Bus co-ordinator, Harriet Davies, shows off some flip flops - Credit: Archant

With the busy festive season approaching, there is an acute need for more volunteers to maintain the selfless work to support people who are drunk, vulnerable or in need of advice.

Jenny Smith, SOS Bus co-ordinator, said: 'Without volunteers the SOS Bus wouldn't be able to provide such a vital resource to the bustling nightlife In Norwich city centre.

'If anyone is interested in volunteering for us, particularly those who could help with driving, then we would love to hear from you.'

A similar plea was last year issued for volunteers after numbers dropped so low that it stopped the service being able to go out into the city's clubland.

Harriet Davies, SOS Bus fundraising officer, said 'We are also investigating the cost of refurbishing the SOS Bus in order that we could accommodate more people, so if there are any businesses or individuals who would like to help us please get in touch.'

She also asked for donations of flip flops or water to give to people on the bus.

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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.

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. The project is run by the Open Youth Trust.

When it was launched it used a bus donated by Christian group Proclaimers International, which got it from the streets of Berlin.

But since 2008, and following a major fundraising campaign, the old bus has been replaced with a new vehicle as well as a fully-stocked medical unit.

It meant that as well as the large bus, where clients receive first aid and advice, the project also had a unit where a paramedic is based.

Miss Smith 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 well-being is threatened by an inability to get home, illness or injury, emotional distress or other vulnerability.

'The SOS Bus and medical unit have saved over 1,200 A&E admissions since 2008, and a cost saving of £274,000 per year in ambulance visits to A&E.'

Anyone who can help the project should email or call 01603 252116.

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