In 2017 truck driver Gerry Watkins raised four grand to buy a double-decker bus which he converted it into a homeless shelter in Cirencester. The project was hailed a success and received media support, and live music fundraisers. With the Cirencester bus now fully refurbished with bed compartments containing timber-framed bunk beds, eating and kitchen areas with a wood-burner, Gerry vowed to bring the concept to other areas in the south west.
Today, he’s proud to bring the idea to Swindon, with a new bus in need of renovation. “I know Swindon needs more than just one bus, but this is a start,” he said.
Such an inspiring DIY story shows the individual can make a difference, yet Gerry is keen to add, “the whole project relies on the sheer kindness of the community and fundraising events to raise funds to purchase materials.” After a campaign to local businesses, Gerry wanted to purchase the bus for £2,900, and told BBC News, “it’s in pretty good condition for the money I paid for it.”
In March Charles Martell, the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire paid The Big Yellow Bus Project a visit along with a longstanding supporter, Lady Bathurst, to present a cheque for £500. But the funding needs to continue. A variety of events have been arranged in the past to do just that, from seaside coach trips to bingo and raffle nights, fund raisers have also included some great punk and ska nights in Cirencester and Stroud, with the backing of local bands such as The Strays, Shaggy Dog Raconteurs, Train to Skaville, Ska-Bucks, Sugar Motown and Plucking Different. Here’s hoping the support will be continued in this new project.
All the work carried out for the previous project was checked by the relevant authority and any homeless person using the bus must be signed up to a rehabilitation course. Gerry also hopes to set up training courses to help the homeless get back into work. We wish Gerry all the best with this outstanding contribution to a growing problem in the South West, please, if you can, show some support for this inspirational project, here.
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