Occupants can sleep, dine and cook

An inviting massage table, a snug chair, a sunlit field of grass this is not a holiday resort but one of London’s famous double-decker buses, which this summer will house up to 40 homeless people.

A fleet of four decommissioned buses has been converted by British-based social enterprise Buses4Homeless into a shelter for homeless people, with spaces for sleeping, dining, cooking, job training and relaxing.

“The most crucial thing for anyone is shelter, having a place to stay,” said Buses4Homeless founder Dan Atkins, from the buses’ temporary site in Croydon, south London.

“And that’s what’s sorely missing in London as the number of beds in night shelters gets slashed and housing remains unaffordable for too many,” he added.

Homelessness has been rising in England for nearly a decade amid rising private rents, a freeze on welfare benefits and a shortage of social housing.

Rough sleeping in London rose by 18% over the last year, hitting a decade high of 8,855 people, a database funded by the mayor of London showed in June, the majority of whom were new to bedding down in parks or doorways.

Mr. Atkins, who devised the initiative after seeing a friend sleeping in a coach luggage compartment, said he wanted to “understand how and why people become homeless, and help reintegrate them into society”.

The buses which were donated by transport company Stagecoach will provide a three-month programme during which passengers can learn to cook, receive basic business training or enjoy a yoga class.

Alternative shelter

Slouched on a wooden bench on the grass-covered top of the fleet’s “wellbeing bus”, a man in his fifties animatedly types on his mobile phone.

James, homeless since threats from a drug-dealing neighbour forced him to leave his Brixton flat last October, has been sleeping on one of the buses after meeting Atkins although the shelter has not officially opened yet. “It was either leave (my home) or end up dead… but the housing association never found me another flat,” said Mr. James, whose name has been changed to protect his identity.

Source: Read Full Article