Norwich’s SOS Bus needs your help

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

A haven for clubbers after a night out in the city needs your help to continue its life-saving work.

The SOS Bus has today revealed it has reached worrying low numbers of volunteers – not seen since 2013 – which, unusually, stopped the service going out on Friday night.

The easily recognisable yellow bus needs 15 more people to bolster the team up to the ideal 40 and bosses are calling on this newspaper's readers to help.

SOS Bus co-ordinator Jenny Smith, 46, said: 'It is disappointing when the bus doesn't go out and we are low on numbers at the moment. We are looking for people who just really want to help. Someone who is really caring, supportive and not judgmental when people are in trouble.'

The bus, support van and medical unit park outside KFC on Prince of Wales Road every Friday and Saturday night between 9pm and 3am. It is manned by a team including two support workers, a paramedic, two St John Ambulance staff, three drivers and security.

On average 650 people are seen every year for everything from too much drink or drugs to needing a safe haven to call a taxi.

From an eight-year-old on board with their parents, to looking after a 92-year-old, SOS bus volunteers have varied work which helps make sure the ambulance and police service can deal with more serious emergencies.

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Miss Smith explained: 'One of the main things we are trying to do is keep people out of A and E.

'If the bus wasn't there it would mean the police and ambulance service dealing with the problems and we want to take the pressure off them. People think we are a drunk bus which just deals with young people, but we actually deal with a whole range of things on the bus. It's about giving something back, getting experience but also doing something really rewarding.'

The running costs are £100,000 per year, with the majority of funds coming from the NHS and the rest from donations.

If you are aged 18 and over and want to volunteer email sosbus@opennorwich.org.uk.If you need help from the SOS Bus between 9pm and 3am call 07833 505 505.

Do you have a health story? Contact nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk