Urgent appeal to save Nightsafe Haven bus

AN appeal has been launched to save a Lowestoft project which helps keep young people safe and prevents unnecessary alcohol-related hospital admissions.

The Nightsafe Haven (SOS Bus) has been running for the past six months, with the bus located on Marine Parade, near Notleys nightspot. It has been operating on Fridays from 9pm to 3am but unless new funding is found, tonight will be the last time it operates.

The project has been manned by St John Ambulance volunteers from both Suffolk and Norfolk. Working alongside St John members have been members of the public who have also volunteered their time.

The project has been funded for the first six months by Great Yarmouth and Waveney NHS Trust but the funding has now come to an end.

'Sadly, due to the uncertainty of government funding the NHS is unable to continue the funding and despite appeals to Waveney District Council and the NHS the project will come to a stop this Friday,' said project manager, Colin Lang, of Norfolk St John. 'In the six months to date we have been visited by many people for all sorts of reasons and the team has needed to treat 30 people for all sorts of injuries.

'In one situation a male attended the unit with injuries to his hands and face. While being treated for those injuries he stopped breathing. Due to the quick work of the team he started breathing again and was taken to hospital.'

The main age range of the clients has been 18 to 24, with more young men attending than women.

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'The team has also been used to ensure people who have found themselves in a vulnerable situation, such as splitting up from friends or partners, have got home safely. The team has issued many pairs of flip flops to young ladies who have sore feet from new shoes, to to prevent injuries to their feet while walking home.

'They have also issued many hundreds of lollipops to clubbers on their way home or walking between clubs. This is always a good ice breaker between the team and the clients but also helps with noise levels on the street,' said Mr Lang.

Great Yarmouth and Waveney NHS Trust officials were concerned with the number of alcohol-related admissions into the Accident and Emergency Department at James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston before the project began.

The project has also supported the ambulance service and Suffolk police by allowing people to be treated on the street rather than having them conveyed to hospital, or taking up police officers' time.

An appeal has been launched, urging all the parents and grandparents who have young people on the streets in Lowestoft to help in any way they can. Nightclubs and pubs in the town could also help with either funding or running a charity night to raise funds.

'Businesses or other organisations might also be able to help keep this vital project on the streets of Lowestoft,' said Mr Lang.

l If you can help in any way contact Mr Lang on 01603 431639 extension 1 or colin.lang@norfolk.sja.org.uk