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‘Tiffers is a converted double decker bus providing warmth and safety for the rough sleepers of Ipswich. Giving them 24/7 support and guidance needed to rebuild their lives for a better brighter future.’

The project is a community interest company and is independently run and funded.Tiffers

I had recently encountered a similar homeless bus project which was starting up in my local area and I was struck by the enthusiasm and commitment of the committee and crew.

Their project had asked would I write a story book about a bus on the subject of the homeless, I was not at all sure whether I could, but the idea seemed interesting so I thought I should take a look. I knew of the homeless support bus in Ipswich and as I was visiting a playbus in the area I thought it would be good to go along and look.

I spent the morning visiting Maggie the playbus with her pre-school children’s group and now there was time and opportunity to visit ‘Tiffers The Bus Shelter’, a bus which was used for something very different.

There most certainly is something about a bus that gets under your skin and into your heart. This would be a different kind of bus and I did not know what to expect.

Tiffers in the laybyThe bus, converted as a shelter for homeless people, is on hand to help people to get themselves back on track when they had fallen by the wayside or when the world had led them into difficult times for whatever reason.

Gareth Brenland, runs the project and had converted the bus to accommodate people in need. He had taken on the project voluntarily following an encounter with a young homeless boy he had met in a local public place. After much work, mostly by himself, he now has a fully converted bus which offers a lot of home comforts and support for those who need it.Wood burning stove

The bus is parked in a safe lay-by and is mostly static. Gareth has two mini-vans for outreach work and is currently converting a second double-decker bus as well.

I could see the white bus, safely parked along the rural road and walked along to take a look inside and meet Gareth.

I was not disappointed, I was greeted with enthusiasm and welcomed aboard with a hot cup of tea.

Love makes our bus a home!Inside it was cosy and warm and the message seemed to sum it all up ‘Love makes our bus a home’. The wood burning stove and soft seating gave a comfortable homely feel, and with the friendly welcome from those on board I felt at ease. We sat and chatted comparing notes and ideas.

This was another effective conversion and certainly fit for purpose. The downstairs had a television, dining table, kitchen area and seating space covered with crochet blanket throws, I liked that!A cosy downstairs

A little dog with his owner trotted on board and he settled himself cosily down in a basket to sleep.

The two bus users, I met on board, explained how the bus had helped them and how safe they felt with what Tiffers was offering. They were supported along the way with form filling and procedures which would help them get back on the right track.

Like the Playbus it also had an awning along the side offering a place to sit outside and rest.

On board toiletThe bus had all ‘mod-cons’ including water and gas supply to help with all the basic comforts.

Upstairs the sleeping berths were compact and cosy and with a shower and toilet, that even ‘Sir Cliff and his Summer Holiday’ crew would be proud of, the residents would be well looked after.Sleeping berths

The bus certainly had a safe and comforting feel

On board showerIt was great to chat and to meet with Gareth Brenland, it was so special to see this unique and valuable project being used and valued. But most of all it was great to once again see a project run by enthusiasm and dedication.

I really hope, just like Maggie and Mandy, that Ipswich can help keep up the momentum of this valuable work and that they not only support but value what this project can offer.Homely homeless bus

Who knows if the Homeless story will be written but at least now I have another insight into the varied work that a bus can offer.

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