Rough sleeper turns his life around after staying in charity’s converted bus

The Buses4Homeless buses
13:38pm, Wed 16 Dec 2020
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A man who was sleeping rough has a new job and his own accommodation after receiving help from a charity which houses homeless people in converted London buses.

Ciprian David, 33, was referred to London-based Buses4Homeless by a Job Centre in February after spending several weeks sleeping on the streets.

Now after receiving help from the charity, he has his own room in shared accommodation and a job working as a carpenter, and is also working towards an NVQ.

Ciprian David, at his new home

He credits the charity with helping to turn his life around.

“They actually helped us in every way they could and if it didn’t work that way we tried a different approach,” he told the PA news agency.

“We actually worked together – that’s the whole purpose of the project – to work together, to see why you ended up in that place, try to fix it.”

Mr David is one of a number of homeless people who have been helped by Buses4Homeless, which marks its one-year anniversary on Wednesday.

They can house up to eight people in their converted buses – down from 16 because of Covid restrictions – and as well as offering food and shelter, provide emotional and vocational support to help people get their lives back on track.

Hen MacEwen, head of press for the charity, told PA: “We focus very much in the first month on the head and the heart – what has potentially led them to being homeless, what their skills are, what they want to do, where they want to go with their life.”

Sleeping pods on the bus

Later, staff work on residents’ life skills where needed – like opening a bank account or applying for universal credit – and help them to find new employment.

“What we like to do is kind of peel back the layers, go through things with them and see how we can help in changing their attitude towards things,” Ms MacEwen said.

Mr David first lost his job – and with it his accommodation – last year.

He spent some time sofa surfing with friends and in temporary accommodation, picking up bits of casual work, before eventually finding himself on the street and jobless in January.

He moved through different areas of London as he searched for work, spending occasional nights in shelters, before being put into contact with Buses4Homeless by a member of staff at a Job Centre in February.

“The moment I spoke on the phone, the moment I heard Hen’s voice and the way she spoke to me, gave me some confidence. I felt a bit relieved because I felt I found something good, just by talking on the phone.”

The converted bus for sleeping

He moved in within a couple of days.

“That’s when I felt I’m actually being helped and I have a place to go from here, and I’m not just stuck not knowing what to do,” he said.

While there he “became a really good part of the community”, Ms MacEwen said, helping out with chores and using his carpentry skills to build a tabletennis table to help keep residents occupied during lockdown.

Because of Covid he ended up staying six months instead of the usual three but now has his life back on track, with a new job as a carpenter.

He credits the charity’s “holistic” approach with helping to change how he sees himself.

“They made us look into ourselves, learn from the others and they helped us to get through this,” he said.

“They did everything they could do as humans to help us and it worked.”

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