New SOS Bus Outreach project launches to support most vulnerable

Group of people  from various agencies stand in front of the SOS bus

A new SOS Bus outreach project has launched to help support vulnerable people in the Braintree District.

A new SOS Bus outreach project has launched to help support vulnerable people in the Braintree District.

The Council was recently successful in applying for funding from Essex County Council’s ‘Changing Futures’ programme to deliver an outreach bus to help support some of the most vulnerable people in our society and bring about positive change to our communities.

Changing Futures is a new outreach programme aimed at helping people within local communities who otherwise can’t access the services they require.

The SOS Bus, managed by the charity Open Road, will offer help to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, are street drinkers or drug users, or in need of guidance and signposting for issues including housing, domestic abuse, debt and mental health, or are in contact with the criminal justice system.

A variety of organisations are involved in delivering the project and have identified the following priority locations for the bus to visit – Braintree, Halstead, Witham and Silver End. The bus will visit on a twice-monthly basis over the next two years.

The schedule and locations will remain flexible to accommodate changing needs, as identified by key partners.

The aim is for the bus to be used as a base for agencies to attend and engage with clients and other identified individuals, allowing them to visit multiple agencies in one go. Other agencies involved in the project include Phoenix Futures, Open Road, Peabody outreach support, NHS Mental Health practitioners, Essex Police, Community 360 and Hope House Essex.

Stacey Banner, Welfare and Volunteer Manager at Open Road, said: “Open Road is very excited to be involved with the Changing Futures project across Essex and really look forward to helping partner agencies in supporting the vulnerable and disadvantaged in the community. We are hoping bringing the bus to them will encourage people to access support to enrich their lives for the better.”

Cllr Frankie Ricci, Cabinet member for Communities, said: “I’m very glad we secured funding from the Changing Futures programme to help support the most vulnerable people in our community in an accessible way and provide a safe space.”

Cllr Kevin Bowers, Cabinet member for Housing, Assets and Skills, said: “The SOS bus will provide a much needed resource for homeless people in the district and ensure support services can provide outreach to those who can’t easily travel round the district or county”.

Published: 1st August 2022