A huge thank you to everyone who supported our launch event on 30 January. We raised nearly £4,000 (without including Gift Aid)!

Since becoming a registered charity at the end of last year, we can now start fundraising and applying for grants. So we invited supporters old and new to an evening of music and a silent auction at St Stephen’s Church hall in central Bournemouth to celebrate our new status and kick-start our fundraising.

Living up to their name, Bourne Awesome organised the even brilliantly. Their talented team took care of the invitation, preparations, refreshments, the silent auction and countless other tasks that ensured the smooth running of a very special evening.

Congratulations to all who won silent action items, which included a holiday in Spain, an art class, a display of collectable Lego Star Wars mini-figures, exquisite paintings, hampers filled with goodies and a football signed by the Bournemouth AFC team, to name a few! While the bidding was underway, along with networking, eating delicious dishes and pizza donated by local restaurants and the soft drinks bar (to stand by those wanting to enjoy alcohol-free lives), singers and musicians Asha and Lucas Ray provided exceptional musical entertainment.

How the HealthBus is meeting needs

Dr Maggie Kirk, HealthBus founder, welcomed everyone and thanked all the supporters before talking about the work of the HealthBus. “It’s amazing to see relationships developing between the business community and the church, the health teams, street teams and many wonderful volunteers – all for the common good of those in need,” she said.

Dr Kirk recalled that back in 2015, after surveying many local people who were homeless, the message came back loud and clear that mainstream health services were not suited to their needs. The HealthBus is a response to the need for appropriate and accessible healthcare for people sleeping rough.

“People rarely choose to become homeless” Dr Kirk pointed out. “But when life unravels, people’s priorities become focused on survival and health gets sidelined.”

With the challenges of getting to appointments, and the physical and mental effort required, there are real barriers to accessing treatment for those living on the streets, especially when people feel that their appearances and behaviour are not acceptable in mainstream healthcare settings.

“Conditions that are treatable get left until people get so sick that emergencies develop and ambulances get called. Or it’s too late to get help” said Dr Kirk, adding that a third of people who die on the streets die of treatable conditions and that homeless people are 40 x less likely to be registered with a GP.

“Here at the HealthBus we’re partnering with other local care providers to make essential services accessible” Dr Kirk explained. “We’re offering hope that things can get better. We’re here because the people who need our services are here. Many of them are sleeping in car parks, churchyards and doorways nearby.”

Operating a hub-style approach alongside St Mungo’s street outreach team, the HealthBus currently has input from:

  • GPs and nurses
  • Royal Bournemouth Liver Team offering Hepatitis C assessment and treatment
  • An optometrist offering free eye tests and glasses
  • The Drug and Alcohol Team
  • Mental health practitioners
  • Podiatry

People can walk in off the street and get a hot drink and a warm welcome whilst linking in with support that can help them move on.

“With just one weekly session, we’ve had over 400 GP appointments attended in the past year by individuals often paying multiple visits before they get housed. As people settle into accommodation, health improves and they move on to use mainstream services” Dr Kirk explained.

So what next?

The HealthBus model is working well for our local community and with more resources, the team would like to increase the number of surgeries. The dream is to create sustainable and appropriate services and Dr Kirk reported that conversations with the council and NHS about their support are ongoing.

“We will continue to strengthen and develop partnerships with local services, including dentists, the hospital and a hospice that wants to support people sleeping rough with terminal illnesses. Other areas with similar needs are being inspired by what is happening here” said Dr Kirk. “In the meantime, we’ll continue to fundraise and invite you back for more celebrations!”


On our thank you list

Please don’t underestimate how much the HealthBus team, and those using our services, appreciate your support.

For our launch event

  • Emma Dillane, Vicky and Andy for leading the event management
  • All who helped behind the scenes, organising invitations and preparations, decorating the room, manning the drinks bar and obtaining refreshments, creating the HealthBus Information Point, organising the silent auction and clearing up
  • Asha for her beautiful singing and piano playing
  • Lucas Ray for rocking the room with guitar and vocals
  • The local restaurants who donated pizzas and dishes, including The Stable, El Murrino, Baffi and Urban Garden
  • The Funky Peach for the branded t-shirts
  • Everyone who came and our generous donors

For ongoing support

  • Richard from Bourne Awesome / Bourne Space for catching the vision of what we can do in partnership for some of the most vulnerable people in our community
  • Rev Ian Terry of St Stephen’s church for his generous support
  • The YMCA from whom we rent the HealthBus
  • Dr Ni’Man and the staff of the Crescent & Providence Surgery who have supported the project from the beginning
  • The trustees who have believed in the work of the HealthBus and willingly given their time and expertise to develop the project to the point of becoming a charity so that we can continue with grant applications and fundraising
  • Jamie Shanks and Green Tambourine, Debbie Lamb and Deano Pickering for help with website design and marketing
  • Kate Hibbitt, our Project Manager and first staff member
  • Nationwide for kindly awarding us a grant which has made so much possible