13 Oct

London buses to provide health and dental treatment for rough sleepers this winter

Two London buses have been kitted out to provide medical and dental care for rough sleepers in the capital this winter.

As part of a programme launched by Change Please, the Driving for Change initiative is using two London buses to deliver a range of essential health and dental services for those sleeping on the streets during the winter.

The buses will provide GP and dental services in addition to free haircuts, practical advice for opening bank accounts and finding employment and training in financial literacy.

Camel Ezel, founder of Change Please, a social enterprise and coffee shop, described the Driving for Change project as the “next step in tackling the homelessness crisis in England.” The aim is to make services more accessible to those who don’t currently have a permanent address and provide opportunities to help people find work and access health and dental care during the winter.

The group is hoping that the template can be copied and implemented in other cities and countries to enable more people to benefit.

Mr Ezel said that the primary focus for the social enterprise was to utilise “sustainable approaches” to provide opportunities and end homelessness. The number of rough sleepers has increased during the pandemic and the latest statistics suggest that over 130,000 households have been made homeless due to the Covid crisis.

Mr Ezel set up Change Please to help people who struggle to access essential services or get a foot in the door in terms of employment due to sleeping rough and not having a fixed address. Thomas Noble is one of many who have benefited from the work of the enterprise.

After arriving in the UK three years ago following deportation from the US and struggling with drug addiction, Mr Noble heard about Change Please and started retraining as a barista. He is now working five days a week, helping to support projects at weekends and lives in an apartment.

Change Please is currently working with Community Dental Services CIC to kit the buses out with mobile dental equipment. Director, Lorraine Mattis, said that everyone is “delighted to be part of the Driving for Change initiative, bringing much needed oral health care directly to homeless people building on our experience in mobile dentistry and supporting the oral health of vulnerable people.”