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Late-night scheme to keep revellers safe

PUBLISHED: 13:15 14 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:21 06 July 2010

The SOS bus in Norwich has proven a great success.

The SOS bus in Norwich has proven a great success.

A SCHEME to help late-night revellers, which has already enjoyed success in Norfolk, could soon be on its way to Lowestoft.

The St John Ambulance Trust is hoping the service - similar to the SOS bus in Norwich - will be up and running from a building in Lowestoft within the next six weeks, providing medical and personal help to pub and club-goers who find themselves in trouble through drink or other problems on Saturday nights.

A SCHEME to help late-night revellers, which has already enjoyed success in Norfolk, could soon be on its way to Lowestoft.

The St John Ambulance Trust is hoping the service - similar to the SOS bus in Norwich - will be up and running from a building in Lowestoft within the next six weeks, providing medical and personal help to pub and club-goers who find themselves in trouble through drink or other problems on Saturday nights.

The facility will be run by volunteers between 9pm and 3am the following morning and aims to reduce the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions.

It follows the launch earlier this year of the Town Pastors scheme in Lowestoft by the town's churches, which also sees a team of volunteers working on the streets to help revellers who run into problems on Saturday nights.

Figures from the James Paget University Hospital show that between April last year and March this year, staff treated 615 people for alcohol-related injuries - a rise on 576 in the previous 12 months.

The SOS project, which started in Norwich, has already been exported to Great Yarmouth which will have a mobile treatment unit on the resort's seafront every Saturday for the next six months, starting tomorrow .

The scheme is the idea of former Norfolk police youth projects officer Colin Lang, who helped set up the SOS bus in Norwich following the death of three teenagers in four months, including 16-year-old Nick Green who was found dead in a Norwich river in 2001 following a night out with friends.

Mr Lang said: “The facility will be capable of dealing with all kinds of issues and if we could not help we would suggest the right people to go to. Our primary role is to deal with any injuries and to get people home safely.

“We are removing the vulnerable people from the street and ensuring they get home safely so we don't have mum and dad worrying where their child is.”

However, he added although enough volunteers were available, more would be welcome and he appealed to Journal readers to come forward if they could spare time on a Saturday night.

Suffolk police spokesman Anne-Marie Breach welcomed the plans. She said: “We work to reduce violent crime and it would be a valuable addition to help us towards that aim. It is something that we welcome and are very supportive of.”

Major Barry Willson, of the Salvation Army in Lowestoft, who was also involved in setting up the Town Pastors scheme, said the SOS project should complement the pastors' ongoing efforts.

“This will provide welcome additional support for the valuable work already being done by the Town Pastors,” he said. “I have worked with Colin Lang in the past and look forward to doing so again. The schemes have a common goal in helping to provide a safe environment for everyone out enjoying themselves in Lowestoft on Saturday nights.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer for the SOS project can call Mr Lang on 01603-431639.

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