Hop on board the buses supporting rough sleepers
14 October 2021 at 8:27 am
“Driving for Change will give the most vulnerable people the opportunity to access crucial services which can guide and support them in changing their lives long term”
A global coffee social enterprise has fired up the engines of a new campaign transforming two double-decker buses to support people sleeping rough on the streets of London.
Driving for Change, launched on the eve of World Homeless Day (10 October), will provide direct support to people sleeping rough with free GP checks, haircuts, showers, and financial, employment and wellbeing support.
In addition, the coffee social enterprise behind the initiative, Change Please, is in talks with the NHS to provide vaccinations against COVID-19 on the buses for rough sleepers.
Founded in 2015, Change Please is a coffee roastery that directs 100 per cent of its profits to supporting people experiencing homelessness through employment, housing and training opportunities.
It’s latest initiative comes just days before the UK government’s homelessness pandemic measures are due to end.
Despite the government’s ban on evictions, increases to Universal Credit (a payment to help with living expenses) and the furlough scheme, the number of rough sleepers in the UK has risen exponentially over the past 18 months, with an estimated 130,000 households made homeless because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Driving for Change has received financial backing from HSBC UK, Colgate and Mastercard, with the companies playing a key role in the services provided onboard the buses.
HSBC UK will provide support and resources on financial wellbeing, Colgate and Community Dental Services CIC will offer access to dental care and oral health education, and a Mastercard representative from its “Nobody in the Dark” campaign will impart key digital literacy skills.
Maxine Pritchard, the head of financial inclusion and vulnerability at HSBC UK, said that it was a “sad fact” that people experiencing homelessness struggled to access financial services because they didn’t have the required documentation.
“Without a bank account it’s extremely difficult to claim benefits, rent accommodation or receive wages, which means people who are homeless can become trapped in their current situation,” Pritchard said.
Change Please founder Cemal Ezel said she was thrilled to be taking the next step in tackling the homelessness crisis in England.
“At Change Please we believe in sustainable approaches to ending homelessness, and
Driving for Change will give the most vulnerable people the opportunity to access crucial services which can guide and support them in changing their lives long-term,” Ezel said.
Buses will officially hit the road in November and run for a minimum of two years, with plans to expand throughout the UK, then move abroad to Paris and the United States.
The UK-based company is also set to open its first Australian cafes in 2022.
Find out more information about the campaign here.