Colchester: Charity’s �80k boost will help buy new SOS bus to support late-night revellers

A VOLUNTARY service which helps late-night revellers has received a major cash boost to buy and refurbish a new SOS bus.

The existing bus has operated for more than three years in Colchester High Street, providing emergency support on Friday and Saturday nights.

The current vehicle had become unreliable and needed regular maintenance work, prompting Colchester Borough Council to earmark up to �80,000 for the project.

It is run by drug and alcohol treatment charity Open Road.

Chief executive Sarah Wright said: “This very generous award will enable us to keep an invaluable and nationally recognised service on the streets every weekend.

“It is not just a ‘booze bus’ as portrayed in some of the media; while it does care for revellers who have overdone it, the bus also provides support, advice and emergency first aid.

“Staffed entirely by trained volunteers, the bus acts as a ‘safe haven’ for those disoriented and at risk.

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“We work with pubs, clubs and the police to reduce anti-social behaviour fuelled by drug and alcohol misuse. We are really pleased that the council continues to recognise and support this important service.”

The bus has helped more than 3,500 people since its launch in 2008.

Ms Wright said the new funding is hugely appreciated and the project has received widespread support from the public and the emergency services.

Colchester Borough Council’s cabinet member for community safety, Tim Young, said: “We are extremely pleased to announce our continued support of the excellent work carried out by the SOS bus.

“The council is committed to supporting the local community by working in partnership to help tackle health and crime issues.

“The new bus will make a real difference to for those who need it on a night out, support the night-time economy and boost community safety in the town.”

Councillors are expected formally to approve the bus funding at a meeting next Tuesday.

North East Essex PCT has also provided funding for a special clinical service, meaning trained medical staff are on board to diagnose and treat minor injuries and illnesses.

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