London buses set up to provide healthcare and financial support for rough sleepers

A bus Drive for change. Image: Cachella Smith

Big Issue-backed Change Please, which trains homeless people as baristas so they can sell fresh coffee from mobile carts while earning a living wage, launched the program as an “urgent intervention” before a potential homelessness crisis – 130,000 households are expected to be forced into homelessness by Covid-19.

Khan told The Big Issue: “We are doing what we can in London with the limited resources we have to support rough sleepers. What we need to do is stop the pipeline of rough sleepers in the first place.

“The cuts in universal credit, the lack of affordable housing, the lack of skills of young people for the jobs created – all of this makes matters worse.

“It is really important that we launch these buses outside of parliament so that they can hear for themselves some of the consequences of their policies.”

The mayor is full of praise for Change Please and The Big Issue.

He added, “One of the reasons I regularly buy the Big Issue and why I am a big supporter is that they bring to the fore issues that are below the surface – the number of sleepers in. the streets in our city, the numbers who are not getting the access to the services they deserve, the life expectancy of the homeless.

Driving for Change bus facilities.  Image: Cachella Smith
Driving for Change bus facilities. Image: Cachella Smith

“I have also been supporting Change Please for a number of years now and Big Issue has had a big part to play in bringing Change Please – to give people sleeping rough not only the skills to become baristas, but also the necessary self-esteem and dignity. off the streets.

“Double-decker buses are the arteries of our city and they are usually the lifeline of moving us around our city, but now they save our lives.”

Change Please has been supported by The Big Issue since its launch in 2015. The social investment arm Big Issue Invest has also provided funding to support the production of coffee sold to Sainsbury’s.

CEO and Founder Cemal Ezel said: “We believe that at the start of 2022 we are going to see a huge increase in the number of homeless people and we need to intervene now to try to provide services directly to the homeless. to help restore confidence. in society and provide services that might generally be available, but not one-stop-shop.

“The buses are a big space on which we can install a lot of services, they take a relatively small footprint for the number of services provided but at the same time, and they are not intimidating.

“It doesn’t look like a charity. We hope to break down misconceptions and stereotypes and normalize the service. You don’t go into a shelter or anything.

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Ezel added: “I think initiatives like Change Please and Big Issue are vital because it is not a gift but a helping hand and we are essentially offering an alternative solution to the problem.

“Rather than someone depending on someone else, someone can have their own dignity, worth and self-confidence through the job and they don’t rely on government or handouts.”

The launch of the buses comes shortly after the end of holidays and cuts to universal credit, both of which are said to have a huge impact on the number of people pushed into homelessness.

HSBC UK, Mastercard and Colgate have partnered with the project and have not only provided funding, but will continue to support users as well.

The Big Issue also works to prevent thousands of people from losing their homes through our Stop Mass Homeless campaign.

Help us take action now by signing our petition, contacting your city councilor to ask them to bring a Stop Mass Homelessness motion to their local authority, or becoming a community champion to take action in your area.

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