Charitable group helping the homeless needs somewhere near Barnstaple to park its bus – and a new shop premises

Volunteers are trying to get wheels under a new project to help homeless people get off the street and on to a bus.

The Bus Shelter North Devon project has a double decker bus it wants to set up on the outskirts of Barnstaple to provide a bed and ongoing support for up to 16 homeless people at a time.

It has been set up by Survival Bags Home and Away and the group has already been donated the bus plus a support car, thanks to a private donation.

Now it is looking for a small piece of private land away from the town centre where the bus can be parked. It is currently in Taunton waiting for its new home, when one is found.

The group also needs to urgently rent a Barnstaple town centre premises for its shop, providing drop-in support as well as clothing and sleeping bags.

Kiz Angell from Survival Bags said they desperately needed a location for the bus and would then set to work to convert it with up to 16 sleeping pods, including emergency beds, as well as a kitchen, toilet and shower plus a seating area.

People who came on to the bus would sign up for at least a week and Kiz said they would have to actively engage with seeking support, with no alcohol or drugs allowed.

She said: “It’s a place where people who may find it more difficult to go into structured supported living might find this a little easier.

“The services will be not just housing but also things such as relaxation techniques, art therapy or even just playing board games to help them adjust and relax.

“We are still looking for a piece of private land and it can be outside Barnstaple as we have agreed with the council it won’t be in town.”

The group is liaising with North Devon Council, which recently sent a fact-finding visit to the inspiration for the project – Bus Shelter Isle of Wight.

Pete Collins is a Barnstaple homeless man and volunteer with the group who also hopes to use the new service and he said several of those on the streets were keen to see the bus arrive and begin helping to fix it up.

“Anything they can get on their CV is great,” he said.

“We more or less have funding sorted but we are trying to get them to help convert it and take pride in it.”

If you can help with a location for the bus or shop premises, please call Kiz on 07506 655041 or message the Survival Bags – Home and Away Facebook page.