The big maroon ex-London double decker bus was provided free by Wymondham
businessman and philanthropist Neil Cranson
who bought it a year ago with the intention of doing it up into a special venue for all sorts of ideas. It has a cafe/open space on top with a marquee to cover it in case of bad weather, a kitchen, a bedroom, three toilets, a shower and a living room space - all on wheels.
church youth worker, Adam Jackson
, who co-ordinated the event, explained: “Neil asked me if I could get together everything we needed to give people a gathering place in which to talk, eat and make friends. He understands in the same way I do that loneliness is a huge problem and a massively underrated ‘disease’ in our society today. So I set off on an adventure to make tickets and speak to some local movers and shakers about gathering together homeless people and lonely people for a party.
“Street chaplain Carrie Sant
was my first port of call. If you don’t know Carrie she is an incredible lady that lives her whole life looking after people who are houseless or homeless and puts on meals for people and gathers them and generally is a light in the darkness for many. She is one of Norwich’s best-kept secrets and if everyone found out what she was doing, I think she would have enough support to change the city! I gave her a cluster of specially-made bus tickets so that she could give them out specifically to people who this would really bless.”
Food was donated by a couple of local firms and the volunteer team came from the congregation of St Stephens church and young people Adam has been working with.
“The turn out was excellent and people soon talked about when we were going to do it again and a couple even asked if we could do it every week,” said Adam. “We parked the bus at St Stephen’s Church and the very lovely Fitt Signs
on Pitt Street.
“The purpose really was as an experiment to see if this would be something that would bless the city in the way we had hoped it did. I feel that we reached this aim – With most days packed out, lots of team, thankful and happy well-fed guests with no trouble at all. I certainly hope we get the chance to do something similar in the future!”
One of the beneficiaries of the bus was Mick Shelton,
who is homeless and has just arrived in Norwich. He has been sleeping rough in graveyards, shop doorways, and at the bandstand at Chapelfield Gardens.
He told the Evening News
: “The bus means that today I have been able to have a conversation with people, sit down and relax and enjoy something to eat and drink. The day before I was sitting outside the Forum reading a book, on my own, did not speak to anyone, and was told to move.”
The party created quite a stir in the local media with a front page of the Norwich Evening News
and features on Anglia News
and Radio Norfolk.
For more information on the project please call Adam on 07598 475 436.
Pictured above is the Belonging Bus and some of the people who came to the party.