Six-month reprieve for Colchester's SOS Bus… (From Gazette)

COLCHESTER S SOS Bus has been saved but only for six months.

The bus, which is used to help drunk and vulnerable people on nights out in Colchester, was facing the axe due to a funding crisis. Now enough money has been found to run it until the end of May next year.

Charity Open Road, which runs the bus, is in talks with pubs, clubs, Colchester s hospital trust and the ambulance service to find the 80,000 a year needed to keep it going.

Ian Vipond, an executive director at Colchester Council1, said: We were worried the funding would end in autumn, but we believe we are OK.

It s so important for the town and we will hopefully find a way of securing it in the future.

Next year is a transitional year and we have to get it to a stage where its sustainability is absolutely secure.

We are looking at a number of ways we can help it get to that position, but it requires the help of not only users and volunteers, but also our partners.

Colchester Council2 and Essex Police3 helped to set up the SOS Bus.

The council has continued to fund it through its Safer Colchester Partnership, but the partnership s funding is set to be slashed.

Wayne Powell, of Open Road, said: It s reassuring to know we have until the end of the financial year. It gives us a bit more time, but nothing has really changed.

We have worked with Colchester Free Festival to raise some money and more businesses are slowly starting to get on board.

We are hoping we can reduce costs a bit more by getting businesses to sponsor the uniforms and get bowls and medical supplies at a reduced cost, if not for free.

The service has proved a massive success since its launch in 2008, operating in the town centre on Fridays and Saturdays from 8.30pm until 4am.

In the past year the service has treated 1,013 people, distributed more than 13,000 bottles of water and avoided 659 hospital admissions.

l Money raised from Open Road s charity ball at The Talbooth, Dedham, on September 24 will go towards saving the SOS bus.

Tickets cost 60 each.

Call 01206 369782.

References

  1. ^ Colchester Council (www.colchester.gov.uk)
  2. ^ Colchester Council (www.gazette-news.co.uk)
  3. ^ Essex Police (www.essex.police.uk)

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