A sleepbus is safe, temporary accommodation for people sleeping rough, and Taree is set to get one if the community can raise the money and volunteers can be found.
Sleepbuses are created out of secondhand buses and coaches and modified to sleep up to 20 people in climate-controlled sleep pods.
Each pod has a television with headphones, a USB charger, a smoke detector, an intercom, and is kitted out with a memory foam mattress and mattress protection, a pillow, sheets and a quilt, and a toilet. Every pod also has a lockable door.
There is storage under the bus for personal belongings, and companion animals have their own compartment. The pet pods have a video and intercom so owners can keep an eye on their pets.
There are also two cabins for volunteer supervisors.
Safety is a priority. The buses have security cameras which a caretaker monitors, the buses are parked in well-lit areas, and third party security patrols are put in place.
All buses have a permanent parking spot and operates from 8pm to 8am each night. Once the people who used the service overnight have taken their belongings and departed, the buses are returned to their depot to be cleaned and made ready for the next night.
Currently there are sleepbuses operating in three locations - Melbourne, Canberra, and Queanbeyan. Two buses for Maroochydore and two for Byron Bay are currently being built.
The buses cost $100,000 and the money is raised by the community the bus is destined for. Founder of sleepbus, Simon Rowe, obtains and modifies a secondhand bus for around $20,000, the fitout costs $60,000 to $70,000, and the remaining $10,000-$20,000 sees the bus serviced and ready for operation.
Simon says sleepbus was never meant to be a permanent solution to homelessness, but a solution for "tonight".
"Provide them with a safe place to sleep tonight and THEN get to work on the long term solutions, like affordable housing, and help people with their pathway out of homelessness," he says.
Simon first started researching solutions for temporary accommodation in 2015, after an encounter with a homeless man in Melbourne.
"I was working in the business and corporate world making plenty of money and doing okay for myself," Simon told the Manning River Times.
"But then I came across a homeless guy one day, and he just ruined me a bit. I described him as being the kindest man I'd ever seen.
"I went home to tell my kids about it and I started having a bit of a sook, and my boys put me on notice. They said, 'well, you should do something about that, Dad', which is something I would say to them.
"And here we are!"
If you are interested in helping out, ring Terry Stanton on 6553 1360.
To learn more about sleepbus visit sleepbus.org.
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