National Express West Midlands has joined up with Mayor Andy Street’s Homelessness Task Force to help get rough sleepers to where they can access help.
The bus operator is working with outreach teams in all seven of the West Midlands councils to donate bus tickets to be used for emergency travel. Using the ticket, a rough sleeper can get to a hostel bed for the night, or go to a benefits appointment, or to get medical help.
Tom Stables, Managing Director of National Express West Midlands, said:
“National Express has its headquarters in the heart of Digbeth in Birmingham, so we all understand how important it is to tackle homelessness.
“One bus ticket can get a rough sleeper to a place where they can get help – that could make all the difference in a crisis situation.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said:
“Homelessness and rough sleeping is a complex issue. It requires a team approach through the Homelessness Task Force to begin to get it under control. However, one simple step we are often told we could take, and which we know would have a big impact, is if we provided a way for people to travel to where they are getting support.
“Whether this is getting medical help, getting to an appointment for emergency housing or hostel accommodation, the chances are that travel will be involved and it’s not fair that further cost is put on people who are at their most vulnerable.
“We’re grateful to National Express for donating these passes which will be really invaluable to people who need them the most and hopefully continue with the progress we are making in tackling rough sleeping here in the West Midlands.”
National Express West Midlands will be providing the tickets in the form of scratchcard day passes. They will give them to frontline agencies who work with West Midlands local authorities to tackle homelessness, such as Solihull Homeless Outreach or the Coventry Salvation Army Outreach team.
Outreach workers from these agencies who make a specific appointment for a rough sleeper – eg for healthcare or a hostel place – can issue a bus ticket on that day to the homeless person to get to their appointment.
The scheme will be run as a pilot at first. National Express West Midlands will be working with St Basil’s and the Homelessness Task Force to monitor its usefulness and effectiveness.