SOS Bus support people in their time of crisis on the streets of Belfast in the early hours each weekend. Minibus teams provide caring services reaching out into the dark streets. When vulnerable people need to be taken to hospital our Response Team minibuses can be tied up for up to 40 minutes. Often we miss a call from someone in desperate need as vehicles are in use leaving the caller on the streets vulnerable and exposed. We need a third minibus to fill the gaps and help more people in need.
We live in a post-conflict society where sadly too many young people are turning to drink and drugs to avoid facing the harsh realities of unemployment and broken homes; parents sometimes have little regard for them and the dangers they face on the streets each weekend. The impact on local communities can be devastating. Our trained SOS volunteers; mums and dads, grannies and granddads offer caring and welfare support to hundreds of young people every week. Our motto is 'Here to Help' and we do.
In 2014 SOS Bus provided over 9,982 hours of volunteering on the streets of Belfast. 726 people needed medical care, with 44 young people transported directly by our mini buses to hospital emergency depts. Our intention is to extend our services by increasing the number of minibuses and therefore double the times we can be present when people in crisis need us. This will raise our SOS volunteer pool to 400 trained individuals and thereby our ability to help more vulnerable people on the streets.
Many young and homeless people now avail of the SOS NI medical interventions and welfare services taking people in crisis into a place of safety. With the addition of a minibus our capacity to offer care to those most vulnerable on the streets will double. Broader benefits to the community is a greater sense of well-being and a recognition that their youngsters have a place of safety to go to should they feel isolated, lost or threatened knowing SOS volunteers will get them home safe.