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See inside Tiffers The Bus Shelter, a converted double-decker school bus for homeless people in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 08:01 29 August 2017 | UPDATED: 08:01 29 August 2017

A double decker bus has been converted into a shelter for the homeless. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A double decker bus has been converted into a shelter for the homeless. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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A double-decker school bus transformed into a homeless shelter will dramatically cut the number of rough sleepers in Ipswich, it is hoped.

Gareth Brenland  inside the bus. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNGareth Brenland inside the bus. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Tiffers The Bus Shelter opened to the public for the first time at a family fun day in Christchurch Park yesterday, just weeks before it starts its new life as a temporary home for rough sleepers at an unconfirmed site.

It comes amid growing problems of homelessness in Ipswich. There are now thought to be 20 rough sleepers, up from five in 2013.

The bus will sleep 14 homeless people and provide support to help them beat their demons, find sustainable work, and eventually get their own accommodation.

It will be open and fully staffed 24/7 and features a stove, a ‘chill-out’ area and even a log burner.

The bus has 14 bunks upstairs. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe bus has 14 bunks upstairs. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Holbrook family Gareth and Sarah Brenland, co-founders of charity Bus Shelter Ipswich, named the bus after their 15-year-old daughter Tiffany.

Mr Brenland said: “Ipswich has got a growing problem. You have got relationship breakdowns, people who have hit rock-bottom and haven’t got anywhere to turn to. We have heard stories of people who have had five-bedroom houses, boats and flash cars – then lost their job, got a little bit depressed, depression turns into alcohol, and they lose everything.

Babergh councillor Derek Davies with Tiffers The Bus Shelter co-founder Sarah Jane Brenland on board the bus. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNBabergh councillor Derek Davies with Tiffers The Bus Shelter co-founder Sarah Jane Brenland on board the bus. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“There are lots of reasons – but lots of reasons why they can be turned around and get back into society. The bus is a simple idea we first saw in the Isle of Wight and this was just something we wanted to do.”

The project, which has cost about £25,000, was paid for through donations and crowdfunding.

The bus was named after Sarah and Gareth's daughter, Tiffani (centre). Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe bus was named after Sarah and Gareth's daughter, Tiffani (centre). Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mr Brenland added: “I don’t think you will ever get the number of homeless people down to zero. There are some who choose that way of life, but what we try to eradicate the need to sleep rough. That’s the key word – the need.”

He said people using the bus will have drugs and alcohol issues.

The bus has 14 bunks on the top deck. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe bus has 14 bunks on the top deck. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“We are realists. We know we can’t have a zero-tolerance approach and there will be addicts on the bus,” he said.

“As long as everyone behaves themselves, they will be welcome. We can only help them if they are willing to help themselves. the ultimate goal is to move them on to permanent accommodation.

The launch of Tiffers The Bus Shelter in Christchurch Park.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe launch of Tiffers The Bus Shelter in Christchurch Park. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The family runs second-hand shop Tiffers The Bus Shelter Shop in Upper Orwell Street.

The Teapot Project will provide food daily for the bus.

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