Inter Faith Week 2018 – the week after Remembrance Sunday – highlighted the work done by faith, inter faith and faith-based groups and organisations and encouraged greater interaction between those of different backgrounds.
Some of the 60 volunteers who operate the SOS Bus Basildon on behalf of Southend YMCA took part in the event, holding prayer meetings to pray for the town.
The SOS Bus provides a safe haven, emergency first aid and guidance on a Friday and Saturday night between 9pm and 3am on Festival Leisure Park. The service is aimed at vulnerable adults who find themselves, often as a result of the impact of too much drugs or alcohol, injured, frightened or in danger of assault or harassment.
The bus, has been in operation since 2010 and relies on external funding and support to operate. The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex Community Safety Development Fund has provided funding to support the bus of £18,671.
John Bastin, Community Health and Wellbeing Manager responsible for the running of the SOS Bus, obtains funding and carries out the first aid training.
He said: “Inter Faith Week matters to us because we can come from different religions and work together to provide the same goal, which is caring for those in need.
“We are looking for more volunteers to join us. They need to be over 18, but there is no upper limit – our oldest volunteer is 83! They need to be able to work / volunteer for two nights each month between 9pm and 3am and want to help those who are in need without judgement, so they can get home safely.”
Staff have access to the medical centre on the downstairs of the bus for those with minor injuries, ensuring less serious problems are treated on the spot rather than going to hospital. The bus helps the night-time economy and reduces crime and antisocial behaviour caused by alcohol misuse, reducing the number of alcohol-related arrests or admissions to hospital.
During the week, the bus travels around the district promoting awareness of health issues, drug and alcohol misuse, benefits advice, housing, community safety and services for children and young people.
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Safe and secure communities are the bedrock on which we build success and wellbeing for all. I’m delighted to be able to support the SOS Bus and really want to be able to say a public thank you to all of those volunteers who work so hard to help people who may be a vulnerable situation after a night out. The help they provide is truly invaluable.”
Anyone interested in volunteering on the bus should contact John Bastin on email@example.com
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