West Suffolk: Future of SOS bus is secure in short-term in Bury and Newmarket

A SPECIAL bus which looks after late-night revellers now has enough funding to continue in the short-term after partners rallied together.

The West Suffolk SOS bus, which is run by the Newmarket Community Partnership, comes to Newmarket High Street on Saturday evenings and Bury St Edmunds town centre on Friday evenings.

The bus, which costs �50,000 a year to run, was at risk of folding due to a funding crisis.

But Simon Waldron, chair of the Newmarket Community Partnership, said partners of the service had managed to scrape enough funding together to enable it to continue for a couple of months. A spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council said the funding partners had provided �12,000.

Mr Waldron said: “It’s been amazing to see how quickly people move. The support, without their support and co-ordination we would be completely lost.”

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He said trustees of the Newmarket Community Partnership had a meeting in January where the concern over funding was discussed.

Unless things changed they were faced with closing the service, he said, and “when it came to our meeting last month the writing was on the wall unless we secured more money”.

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He said an email was sent out, people got round the table and enough money was found to guarantee the bus’s future in the short-term.

He said the partnership was now trying to work out a long-term funding strategy to cover the bus’s running costing, with ideas including a campaign and obtaining support from businesses.

He added how they also hope for regular funding from partners.

Mr Waldron said: “These days getting funding from anywhere is a struggle and so many charities are going under because money is not about.”

He added how they had tried applying for funding from national organisations without any luck.

The purpose of the bus is to assist people at risk, for example those who are drunk, providing water, a blanket, help to get home or shelter for a period of time if needed.

It has contributed to reductions in violent crime, ambulance call-outs and emergency admissions to A & E.

The West Suffolk SOS bus has been running in Newmarket for three years and for one year in Bury. Anyone who is able to support it should contact Mr Waldron on 01638 713778.

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