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King’s Lynn’s YMCA bus hailed a ‘life-saver’ 

YMCA Norfolk’s SOS Bus service in King’s Lynn has supporting more than 24,000 people in the last year, and has been praised by members of the public as a “life saver” to the local community.

The SOS Bus, commissioned and funded by the Integrated Care Board, operates every Friday and Saturday night from 9pm until late within the night-time economy of King’s Lynn town centre. A dedicated team of community engagement workers offers a wide variety of support and advice in partnership with local agencies, providing help to those in a crisis or in need of emergency assistance, offering a much-needed alternative to calling emergency service units which are under mounting pressure.


In the last year, the service has interacted with 24,562 people through offering food parcels, clothes and first aid as well as somewhere to seek advice around safe sex, drug and alcohol abuse, cost of living and mental health crisis situations.


The SOS team have also de-escalated many pre-arrest situations, preventing local police from having to spend extra time and resource on arresting and charging those in a drunk and disorderly state. They also provide medical support and first aid to those with injured or unwell to avoid adding to NHS A&E pressures and wait-times.


One service user commented: “I had my drink spiked on a Saturday night in a club in Kings Lynn, and the SOS Bus team assisted me outside the club for over 2 hours. I can’t thank them enough for the service you provided, – the team saved my life and for that I am truly grateful.”


In the last year the service has not only seen a rise in the overall number of users accessing the SOS bus services but have also seen an increase in families and elderly people asking for clothing, warmth and food parcels.


Kate-Kemp Small, YMCA Norfolk SOS Bus Project Lead, said: “It’s becoming more and more evident how much charitable and community projects are needed to relieve pressures off emergency services and the NHS, and without services such as the SOS Bus, members of the public have admitted to us that they would have had to go days without eating, self-harmed or ended up in highly dangerous situations such as drink-driving. While we’re proud to have managed to support so many people in the last year, we’ve also first-hand witnessed how tough times are for many in the current climate.”


The SOS Bus team are currently recruiting for volunteers and would love to hear from committed, passionate individuals who are looking to make a difference in their local community. For further information, please email [email protected]


The photo is courtesy of YMCA Norfolk.


Tony Rothe, 27/05/2023

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