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Children learn about life's hardships on visit by homeless shelter

PUBLISHED: 14:08 10 February 2019 | UPDATED: 18:34 12 February 2019

Members of Holbrook Primarys school council outside Tiffers The Bus Shelter in Ipswich. Picture: LUCY JOHNS

Members of Holbrook Primarys school council outside Tiffers The Bus Shelter in Ipswich. Picture: LUCY JOHNS

THE BRIDGE PROJECT

It is often said that many young people are yet to learn about the hardships of life.

Members of Holbrook Primarys school council outside Tiffers The Bus Shelter in Ipswich. Picture: LUCY JOHNSMembers of Holbrook Primarys school council outside Tiffers The Bus Shelter in Ipswich. Picture: LUCY JOHNS

But one group of children got an eye-opening glimpse into the world of homelessness when a double-decker bus turned into a shelter for rough sleepers visited their school - to talk about the challenges those less fortunate than themselves face.

Tiffers The Bus Shelter, which has 14 bunks for homeless people on its top deck, set itself the ambitious target of helping to cut rough sleeping in Ipswich when it was launched in August 2017.

And this week the bus and its volunteers visited Holbrook Primary School to talk about their work and the ongoing problem of homelessness in Ipswich.

“They all drive past the bus all the time on their way to and from school,” said Lucy Johns, teacher at Holbrook Primary, which has chosen to support Tiffers The Bus Shelter for this academic year.

Members of Holbrook Primarys school council outside Tiffers The Bus Shelter in Ipswich. Picture: LUCY JOHNSMembers of Holbrook Primarys school council outside Tiffers The Bus Shelter in Ipswich. Picture: LUCY JOHNS

She said that naturally young people can have a tendency to “take a lot of stuff for granted”, adding that it is therefore “good for them to hear the experiences of some people who’ve been homeless themselves”.

Following the visit, Mrs Johns said: “Every class, in turn, from foundation to year-six climbed aboard the bus.

“They were all very impressed with how stylish and comfortable the interior is, with all the comforts you could need from a log burner to a hot shower and seven comfortable beds.

“The manager, Gareth Brenland and his two colleagues, James and Nathan, both once homeless themselves, joined us for an assembly where the children had the opportunity to ask questions about the bus and the work they do. The children asked some very thoughtful and poignant questions.”

During an assembly, the school presented Mr Brenland with a cheque for £130, which was raised by parents. “We all agreed that Tiffers make a real difference to the lives of the people that have the opportunity to live on the bus,” said Mrs Johns.

“It was a fascinating afternoon. Holbrook Primary are continuing to raise money for them until the end of the school year.”

A multipronged attack on the causes of homelessness has helped to drastically reduce rough sleeping in Ipswich. Yet outreach workers have urged people to see homelessness as a “365-day problem” needing constant focus.

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