The Big Red Housing Bus

Project

The Big Red Housing Bus will be a high profile, eye-catching and fun way of engaging with the people of Frome to promote awareness of and explore solutions to the housing crisis in the town. Visitors to the Bus will be able to access a range of information related to housing issues and opportunities, to chat and share ideas with professional advisors and trained volunteers, and to participate in a housing survey designed to help Fair Housing for Frome and its partners plan future services. Children’s activities, refreshments and entertainment will also be on offer.

The Bus will be parked from mid morning to early evening in prominent and accessible locations around the town from Saturday 6 April to Wednesday 10 April – the first week of the Easter holidays. Our aim is to be outside the Cheese and Grain for the Saturday and Sunday markets, and then in three different sites with adjacent public buildings (Trinity, The Mount and The Old Showfield) from Monday – Wednesday.

We are particularly keen to connect with local people who would not normally access advice services and may be ‘hidden homeless’ or vulnerably housed. There will be an extensive publicity campaign to announce the arrival of the Bus as well as an electronic housing survey to enable those can’t visit in person to participate.

The Bus will be staffed by professional advisors and by volunteers from FHfF’s Zero Nights and other schemes. We are aiming for a broad partnership including: Fair Frome, Bridge Café, Mendip YMCA, CAB, Elim Connect, the Energy Cafe and the Children’s Festival. This will be a uniquely Frome event that will bring people together from across the community to learn more about housing and homelessness, build partnerships and social connections, and do something that is both fun and beneficial.

Budget

Title Description Total amount Amount requested
Management costs FHfF staff –  8 days preparation work (est) 840 0
Training Safeguarding & listening for volunteers 100 0
Office costs (rent, telephone etc) 25% rent and telephone over 8 weeks 24 0
Sub Total 964 0
Salaries 5 days @ £120 per day 600 0
Expenses (travel etc) Fuel for the bus 200 200
Venue hire Planning and training

Bus venues Mon – Wed

90

200

90

200

Materials and equipment Hire of bus

Catering

2500

150

1000

100

Publicity Event website

Bus livery

Flyers

Merchandise

600

400

100

250

100

400

100

250

Volunteer expenses 0 0
Other (please specify) Children’s activities on or adjacent to the Bus 400 400
Sub total 6454 2840
Contingency 100 100
TOTAL 6554 2940

Public questions and feedback

Q: There is already an established homeless bus project run by a previously homeless man called Star. Can we not support him instead?

A: Thanks for your question. These are two different projects focused on two different groups of people. Star’s coach travels around the south west offering food, drink, showers and clothing mainly to single people who are sleeping rough. This is similar to the group that we have been helping through our Zero Nights scheme over the winter. One of the things we’ve discovered is that the number of rough sleepers in Frome is relatively small – usually less than ten at any one time. In contrast The Big Red Housing Bus will provide information and support for individuals and families with young children who are either ‘hidden homeless’ (eg sofa surfing) or facing other housing difficulties and at risk of becoming homeless in the near future. We’ve been doing research on homelessness in Frome for several years now, and all the evidence suggests that this is a much bigger group of people, and where we can make the most difference. How wonderful if we can prevent people becoming homeless, in addition to supporting the people who already find themselves in that sad situation. Please help us to do this.

Q: The bus seems very gimmicky. If the bus is being parked somewhere stationary, why use a bus if it’s costing ‘x’ amount. Additionally, does everything have to have children’s activities? The housing crisis is not trivial, it needs to be dealt with in depth properly. Why not just have the info and advice available all the time from the Council building?

A: Thank you for your thoughtful questions and the opportunity to explain the project better. Firstly, we have no intention to be gimmicky or trivial – we are nearly all volunteers who have been working together since 2016 out of a shared concern for the housing crisis in Frome, and this scheme has been carefully planned and consulted on. The reason for using a bus is that it will function as a mobile exhibition and meeting space that will be parked in at least 5 different places in the town over five days, which is both cost and time efficient. Providing children’s activities will free up their parents to discuss their housing issues, as well as attract families who might not otherwise know about the scheme. The evidence we have is that many people are intimidated by and unfamiliar with the Council building and it will be much more effective to be there for them in their local neighbourhood. However we are also developing a series of leaflets and other info about housing and homelessness which will be available at the Town Hall for those who choose to go there. We hope this answers your queries.

Q: Where are housing questions discussed and answered at all other times?

A: General advice on housing is available from the Mendip District Council desk at Frome library, Monday to Friday 9.30-1pm and 2-4.30pm, Tel 0300 3038588. YMCA Routes Cafe in Palmer Street provides advice for under-25s and is open Monday – Friday 10am-5pm. There is a drop-in housing advice session for single homeless people at Fair Frome (just behind the Town Hall) on Tuesdays 11am-1pm. General advice is available from the Bridge Cafe in Trinity, Wednesday to Friday 11am-4pm. Lastly, the CAB in King Street is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 10am-2pm. We’re planning to put all this info into a leaflet which will available from April at the Town Hall and Discover Frome. However it’s always good to check because opening times can change. All this info will also be available on the Bus, along with people you can talk to face to face.