THE REDEMPTION Bridge team has issued a festive appeal to get their homeless ‘hygiene bus’ on the road by Christmas day.
The whole project was thrown up in the air this October after the bus was smashed by vandals in two separate attacks, leaving all 15 windows shattered and the windscreen wipers and indicators broken.
The charitable trio now has four weeks to install newly ordered windows, get an MOT and build the showers for the homeless.
The project was created by Stephen Morton who moved from Enniskillen in Northern Ireland to Bradford after ‘losing his mind’ and getting involved in crime.
The entrepreneur, joined by his fiancee Louise Savage and friend Rob Linden, says he is now on his own “road to redemption” by helping the homeless find their feet.
The team plans for the bus to have two or three showers, a toilet, clothes washing and drying facilities, a food prep area/kitchenette, a seating area, a counselling room and sleeping bunks for volunteers working on the bus when it is away from home for the night.
But, for now, Louise says the focus is on installing wash spaces to bring back vulnerable people’s “self esteem, independence and dignity” as a Christmas gift.
Louise told the Telegraph & Argus: “We’re looking for people, businesses, to come forward.
“We want to do a meal on Christmas day and people can have showers and Christmas together.
“I know times are tight and it’s leading up to Christmas so even if anybody can donate £2 and if people can share our Facebook pages, it’s like a ripple effect. If anybody can give a £2 donation that helps us closer to our target.
“It might seem a small amount to them but it’s a big number to us.
“We’ve been out in the streets and we spoke to a homeless guy and we asked him how does he shower and does he have access to a shower. He said no, he has to wash in a restaurant toilet.
“I asked him how he felt about that and he said it’s degrading.”
The philathropists have paid for the windows to be replaced at a cost of £700 with the insurance yet to go through.
But time is ticking as the colder temperatures set in and the bus fills with glass pieces blown inside by the wind.
Redemption Bridge is asking businesses to consider them in their corporate and social responsibility strategy, paying £25 a week to sponsor a window and have their company advertised.
Masters of their trade, especially plumbers and electricians, are also wanted to help install shower units.
The whole experience so far has been described as “soul cleansing and heartwarming” by Stephen with sleeping bags and clothes donated by members of the public.
He told the Telegraph & Argus: “Approaching businesses is the problem. If anybody is interested I can go out and speak to them.”
People can donate to the cause by visiting the Just Giving page.