Entertainment, On A High Note

London’s Buses4Homeless: An Idea for Nashville?

Photo courtesy of Buses4Homeless

Here’s what happens when good intentions and a well-crafted plan come together. London businessman Dan Atkins has formulated a project called Buses4Homeless, which makes use of converted old and decommissioned buses to help homeless people in the city.

Atkins, an event and party bus operator, hatched the idea when he discovered a homeless man sleeping in a bus luggage storage department. The sight of the man’s plight moved him very deeply. “It absolutely broke my heart to see him living like that,” Atkins says. Later that day, Atkins bought a double decker bus and refurbished it into a home for the man to live in. The gentleman has since become gainfully employed and now has a place of his own, while he and Atkins have remained close friends.

The experience inspired Atkins to take his charitable act to greater heights, with fund-raising to buy and convert decommissioned buses. His project, Buses for Homeless, plans to roll out a pilot fleet of four buses this year in London and create satellite projects in other areas. Buses4Homeless projects will include buses being used for shelter, mobile kitchens and vocational training opportunities. Two vehicles will be converted to Buses4Shelter, sleeping up to 40 homeless veterans a night.

Interior shot of one of the converted double-decker buses. Photo courtesy of Buses4Homeless

On Tuesday, October 23rd, Buses4Homeless will reach out to the community for a truly special activity. Celebrity hair stylists will be on board a bus to offer free haircuts and a warm meal to the homeless. Certainly, something as simple as a haircut can not only restore a person’s self-esteem but also aid in pursuing employment. Homeless advocate Jenny Roberts contacted a number of her celebrity friends who offered their support for the project.

Buses4Homeless is an idea that could surely be adopted in major cities across the U.S., including Nashville. Music City likely has a surplus of older buses that could be redone and sent out to homeless areas for shelter, transportation and other services, such as the complimentary grooming day offered by Buses4Homeless. We can even imagine a country celebrity or two spearheading such a worthy cause.

Such programs are already underway in multiple cities. Lave Mae, a nonprofit in San Francisco, has converted old donated city buses into mobile shower units for homeless people. Each bus can provide 2,000 showers a week, according to Leah Filler, the Engagement Director for Lava Mae. In Medford, Oregon, a local nonprofit called Forever Homes, Vehicles for Change is renovating retired buses and turning them into fully functioning houses on wheels for the homeless and their families.

The buses are also transformed into learning centers. Photo courtesy of Buses4Homeless

Buses4Homeless has a simple mission: to reduce the number of homeless while restoring dignity to those in need. Through the zealous efforts of so many dedicated people – Atkins and Roberts, as well as Dwina Gibb and RJ Gibb, ambassadors and supporters of this enterprise, and Lisa Voice, patron of this charity – it appears that the mission is well on its way to success.

Contributions are being accepted for Buses4Homeless. For more information and to make a donation, visit the organization’s JustGiving page.