Dundee’s Safe Zone bus and the “power of the Pot Noodle” have come together to reach out to some of the city’s most vulnerable people.
On Friday night the bus – which traditionally offered help to revellers – was parked in its new location in Court Street providing advice and assistance to all people in need.
Co-founder Neil Sneddon, who sits on the steering group for Safe Zone Street Outreach, explained the bus now provides help with a range of issues, including health, mental health, drug and alcohol brief interventions, debts, benefits, housing and homelessness.
Staff can also provide hot food and hot drinks to users of the service, along with food/sanitary packs to support those who are in immediate crisis.
Neil, an integration manager with Dundee’s Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “By working from the Safe Zone Bus as a base, nurses, social workers and welfare staff from a range of organisations can perform crisis interventions within a community-based setting.
“The mobile nature of the base ensures that communities across Dundee can be supported as we emerge from lockdown.”
He added: “It was recognised within the community during lockdown that there were individuals who were adversely affected by the temporary closure of services and that their health and wellbeing needs were in danger of not being met,.
“We recognised that this could potentially leading to homelessness, begging, suicide attempts, increased use of substances which in turn could potentially lead to the intervention of the emergency services or admissions to hospital that could have been prevented with intervention from primary services.”
Neil said: “We are hoping to expand even further. We already have a regular presence in Lochee on a Saturday night and on Friday we took the bus to Court Street for the first time.
“While working with vulnerable people in Dundee through the bus we have discovered the power of the pot noodle.
“It not only provides a hot meal but the time it can take to get ready gives us three or four minutes to actually engage with the person waiting for it.
“That can give us all the time we need to learn about that person and their life and needs and how best we can help them.”
Since March the bus has helped hundreds of people and it’s now hoped the new service can also be rolled out in other areas of Dundee.
Neil said: “Further areas of the city are being looked at for their suitability for deploying the Safe Zone Bus, .
“It is hoped that if this second shift in Court Street can be delivered and fits the identified need in the area, a third location will then be considered.”
The bus first hit Dundee’s streets in 2013 in an attempt to reduce the impact of binge drinking, vulnerabilities and other harmful behaviours such as long term and recreational drug use had on the emergency services.
Over nearly seven years the bus assisted over 4,000 revellers in Dundee.