'This offers something really valuable... you are taken into a space that is clean and nice, and you are taken care of'
Driving for Change, St Martin’s Le Grand, City of London, Hackney Town Hall and Gillett Square in Dalston
tp bennett for Change Please
Contract cost £18,000 per bus, with all design and fitout work carried out pro-bono
From April to July 2022, London had 2,998 rough sleepers – 16% more than the same period last year according to the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN). Charity Change Please repurposed two London double-decker buses as mobile places of support in the City of London and Hackney – ‘an amazing concept’, said judge Takeshi Hayatsu. The buses were deployed in two further London boroughs in December and will expand to Manchester in 2023; a later phase will add services for women and mental health.
Driving for Change offers homeless people access to free services including GP consultations, haircuts, dental care, an NHS triage nurse, digital and financial literacy training, employment support, showers, therapy assessments, and everyday essentials. The result of a partnership between the NHS East London Foundation Trust, HSBC, Colgate, Haircuts4Homeless and Community Dental, each bus cost £18,000 to kit out. While some judges recoiled at the corporate branding dominating the buses’ exterior, sponsorship is crucial to the success of the scheme. ‘Inside it is really high quality’ said Joan Kerr. ‘It is offering people practical things that perhaps they don’t need every day but do need every so often, like dental treatment. There is a use for things like this.’
Aiming to create a ‘welcoming sanctuary where guests would feel at ease’, interiors give a sense of domesticity and safety, with confidential spaces. ‘This scored very highly for me,’ said Isabelle Priest. ‘The interior fit out and spaces were of high quality.’ Kathy MacEwen agreed: ‘This is really offering something valuable to people. You are taken into a space that is clean and nice and you are taken care of. The fact it comes to you is also nice. It says you matter.’
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