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This Bus Once Housed Sam Smith and David Guetta. Now It's a Home for Manchester's Homeless.


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Adequate, safe, and affordable housing is a key part of the UN’s Global Goal for sustainable cities. Nevertheless, homelessness is a growing problem in the UK. As well as political action, individuals and businesses can all play a part in helping support those who find themselves on the streets. Join us by taking action in support of the Global Goals here

Sam Smith, Tinie Tempah, David Guetta, Mumford & Sons, and their entourages have all reportedly once called this double-decker tour bus home, if only for a short amount of time. 

But now it’s been given a new lease of life — as a temporary shelter to support Manchester’s homeless population. 

The idea of the transformation project is to offer a stop-gap solution, where people can sleep and rest in safety while they’re seeking permanent accommodation. 

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It’s the brainchild of Sid Williams, a former youth worker, and his wife Tess, who between them have launched the charity Embassy in Stockport. 

“Embassy is more than a bus with some beds on it,” it says on the charity’s crowdfunding website. “50% of re-housed people return to the streets because of extreme isolation and loneliness. We’re determined to make homelessness less exhaust rain and cold, but also set our guests up to succeed when they do get housed.” 

“Ending the need to sleep rough is important but we are also engaging with third parties to provide training, work, and other opportunities to increase the chances of our guests staying housed once they leave the bus,” it adds. 

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Very little has reportedly changed about the interior of the bus, which has 14 beds, two lounges, a kitchen, and storage space. The “hugely inappropriate” champagne fridge has, however, been repurposed as a milk fridge, according to the Guardian

The bus will be ready to open this winter, and will offer — if at full capacity for the whole year — 5,110 nights of sleep for people sleeping rough in Manchester over the course of its first year. 

The number of people sleeping rough in England has been rising for seven consecutive years — up 169% since 2010, and reaching the highest it’s been since records began. 

In 2017, around 4,750 people were believed to be sleeping rough on any given night in England. 

In Manchester specifically, the number has reportedly increased 10-fold since 2010 — and around 500 people are now believed to be sleeping rough in Greater Manchester. 

“A safe place to sleep and rest is the most basic of needs, but many people who find themselves homeless have been deprived of that,” Williams told the Manchester Evening News. “You can’t face the process of finding a permanent home when you are exhausted and living hour to hour.” 

“Once people are there, they’ll be able to make useful connections with agencies, businesses, and churches who could change their future, providing support into permanent homes and full-time employment," he said.

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Only males over 26 years old will qualify for a place on the bus because, according to Williams, it’s the demographic that accounts for the majority of homeless people in Manchester. Williams says, however, that this group tend to be lowest priority when it comes to rehousing. 

Those on board will be referred by partner agencies, and the bus will be staffed by one paid support worker and two volunteers a night. 

Alcohol and drugs will also be banned on the bus, reported the Guardian, and residents will need to be on board by 8 p.m. Those staying on the bus will also be able to shower at the Narrowgate Mission in Salford, which has partnered with Embassy. 

Other businesses have also leant their support to the project in different forms. Capital&Centric, a property and regeneration business provided half of the £30,000 needed to buy the bus, and is reportedly supporting the charity in fundraising the over £100,000 a year needed for running costs. 

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Stagecoach has offered a free-of-charge parking space at its depot, where the bus will be parked during the day. Another firm has offered to wash the bedding for free, while a gardening firm has said it will offer jobs to those on board. 

Manchester mayor Andy Burnham — who pledged to end rough sleeping in Greater Manchester by 2020 — is well behind the project. 

“This year I want us to provide a bed for every rough sleeping in Greater Manchester every night of the winter, and this project run by Embassy could play an important part in making that an achievable goal,” he said. “It’s a flexible resource, on that can be moved around, and I’m calling on businesses across the city-region to back it and other projects like it that require financial support.” 

The UK government has also vowed to end homelessness across the country by 2027, announcing a £100 million strategy in August to make homelessness a “thing of the past.”