We are pleased to tell you that due to the extreme cold weather we have been asked by Crawley Open House and Crawley Borough Council to assist them in keeping homeless folk safe by lending “Danny” to them for three months. As from next Monday the bus will be parked behind Crawley Town Hall as an annex to the emergency accommodation they already have, thereby offering a warm and safe environment for up to 12 guests. We have reached an agreement with our project partners that any former service personnel who need a hand up will be guaranteed accommodation 24/7 either on the bus or elsewhere.We are very pleased to be able to help and were told at a meeting yesterday, in no uncertain terms sleeping in the bus rather than outside could literally save a life. A recent report from Shelter states than deaths within the homeless communities has increased by 24% over the last 5 years and in the South East homelessness has risen by 261% since 2010. We are therefore humbled that our bus is going to be so well used over the coming months, heartfelt thanks to all who have made our dream a reality.
Since our last post in July. We are delighted to report that the refurb is complete and Danny is open for business, it has been a long but worthwhile slog! There are so many companies and individuals to thank. First and foremost the skill, enthusiasm and drive of Crawley Men Sheds these brilliant retired tradesmen have given us their talent, time and humour since February 2018 until 29 October when they handed the bus back to us done! Special mention to Julie Kalsi from Crawley Borough Council who intoduced us to Crawley Mens Shed, Manager Ian Sage for being so supportive of the project and always going the extra mile and our own Boy Band of exceptional tradesmen (and lovely warm humans): Dave, Tony, Harry, John and Colin. We would also like to thank Mardens of Benfleet for painting Danny and South East Coachworks who apart from all their free advice a team of their staff and MD Paul Chapman have given up their day off twice to lay the floor on both decks for us.In addition we have been given all the electrical items by TLC Crawley,Timber from Rofant Sawmills and Fuel from David Whyatt at Crawley Down Garage Despite what you read and hear in the news the spirit of human kindness is alive and well! Especially in Crawley!
Since our last blog in April the refitting of Danny has been coming along thanks to the brilliant Mens Sheds Crawley. All the sleeping pods are finished and the lockers for our guest’s personal effects. Each pod has a reading light and a charging point for mobile phones. We were kindly given new floor covering by Altro of Hitchin for both decks of our bus but needed specialist help to lay the floor. We contacted our friends at South East Coachworks, Faversham for advice, MD Paul Chapman to our relief and joy said he and some of this team would drive to Crawley on Saturday June 23 and lay the floor free of charge. Charity work does restore ones faith in human nature heartfelt thanks to Paul, Dan, Darren and Steve for giving up their day off!. On Saturday June 30th Danny (although not finished) made his first public appearance at Armed Forces Day, Swanley, Kent. Now its full steam ahead to finish the refit so Danny is ready to be used from this autumn onwards.
As you can see from the photos the top deck bunks are coming on a treat. There is a lot of other work going on that is difficult to photograph also wiring and plumbing while essential, it is not very interesting! We are so grateful to Mens Sheds Crawley. A special mention for Dave,Harry,Tony,Ian and Julie.
A huge thank you to everybody who attended our charity fund raising night last Saturday at Broadbridge Heath Village Centre and Social Club. Due to peoples amazing generosity we raised a staggering £909.87. The money will be used to buy kitchen items for “Danny the Bus” that is currently being refurbished by Men’s Sheds Crawley to become a night shelter for homeless folk in Sussex, many of whom are former Veterans who have fought for our country. Special thanks to Phil Farllelly and the band, the talented Furious Badgers.
The talented guys at Men’s Shed Crawley are making real headway with the dormitory for the top deck. Each time Mick our welfare officer visits he brings plenty of cakes and biscuits (thank you Tesco!) to ensure the energy of these remarkable guys is kept topped up!
The brilliant team at Men’s Sheds Crawley are working hard to get Danny finished, three of the crew Tony, Dave and Harry are working extra days to get the bus done – thank you guys. Heartfelt thanks also to team leader Ian who has volunteered to lay the brand new vinyl floor covering.Local folk have asked about the bus and the charity and brought in warm cloths,duvets and blankets.Thank you all.
Special thanks to to the following companies who have donated material free of charge: Altro Flooring of Letchworth. TLC Direct of Crawley and Timberstore of Rowfant, you guys have restored our faith in human nature.
Here is Danny on arrival with us in March 2017, he had spent the last two years at the back of Fulwell bus garage, following the end of the Richmond Youth Cafe for which he was originally converted for.
Fast forward to February 2018, we discovered a brilliant organisation called “Men’s Shed Crawley” The idea which originally started in Australia in 2006 aims to provide support to men who may have recently retired, carers, widowers and those who might prefer to share and learn skills to take part in meaningful and productive projects. This includes, gardening, woodwork and other practical tasks. There are now more than 1,200 sheds in Australia and the scheme has gone global, including the ‘shed’ now here in Crawley and several others across West Sussex.The Crawley shed is open every Monday and Friday 9am-4pm and aims to appeal to all types of skills sets and hobbies. Project co-ordinator Ian Sage who manages the shed on behalf of Crawley Borough Council said: “This project is all about getting the local community together and encouraging older men to be more social, and pass on their skills. We want to get this project up and running and fully functional as quick as possible, but to do that we really need the support of the local community. Whether it be in the form of volunteers helping out around the shed every week or simply donating tools and supplies for us to carry out projects. “The shed is a place where group members can feel at home to pursue practical interests, skill-sharing and informal learning as well as being a place to socialise with like-minded people. The group also aims at helping and supporting people with dementia engage with activities that are relevant to them.” Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Councillor Chris Mullins, said “This is a fantastic project that can really benefit and support many members of our community, it’s important that we provide these opportunities to those who may not otherwise, have much social interaction or support.” We are delighted that with the help of Ian Sage and Julie Kalsi “The Shedders” have kindly agreed to use there many skills to refit Dannys interior for our charity.