CAMPAIGNERS have picked up the keys to a new double decker bus - donated to help transform the lives of the homeless in Dorset.
Emily McCarron and her partner Eddie have been calling on the community for support to help those who are sleeping rough on the streets.
The pair had been hoping to raise enough funds to buy and renovate a double decker bus which would provide up to 20 beds for rough sleepers to sleep safely. They have already hit their initial funding target of £10,000 to buy a bus, raising £10,609 in three months.
But then a Blandford company stepped in and donated a double decker bus, meaning the project is now well-ahead of schedule.
Emily said: “It’s all going really well. It’s very exciting. First of all we’re going to rip the seats out and try to get 18 beds upstairs. We’re going to put toilets and a changing room in. Downstairs there’s going to be a wood burner and we’ll have a separate trailer which will be the kitchen, which is good because it means more space on the bus.”
The bus will be based in Weymouth, but Emily says they will be on hand to help anyone in the county who needs it.
The couple hope to complete the renovation by June.
“We’re way ahead,” said Emily, adding: “Initially we wanted to raise £10,000 to buy a bus but we’ve been given one and what we’ve saved will go towards the conversion and running costs.”
The bus will be renovated to include sleeping pods for guests upstairs and downstairs there will an area for volunteers to sleep, a consultation area, kitchen, wood burner and seating area.
The bus will be powered by solar panels on the roof and there will be storage space under the bunks for rough sleepers to store their belongings.
Each sleeping pod will have its own curtain for privacy and low voltage LED lighting and USB plug. The bunks will consist of a mattress, sheets, duvet, two pillows and additional blankets if needed.
There will be two volunteers aboard at all times.
Guests will also be offered the use of a PO BOX so that they are able to apply for work, register with GP and make benefit claims.
“We have been overwhelmed by the support,” said Emily. “We have been inundated with donations from people offering their time. It’s been amazing."
The cost of this project will be approximately £10,000 and the monthly running costs will be approximately £1,500.
Volunteers are needed to help complete the renovation. If you would like to donate, get involved or offer your skills email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Just Giving page here.