Bus company ComfortDelGro Corporation Australia (CDC) has helped one of its community partners to provide a potentially life-saving asset to the Maroochydore community.
sleepbus®, a charity focused on providing “safe, temporary, overnight accommodation to people sleeping rough” through its volunteer-built, customised retired buses, has launched its latest vehicle at an event held at the Maroochy Neighbourhood Centre.
The new sleepbus vehicle provides refuge for up to 17 guests per night in self-contained, lockable sleeping pods. It also offers clean sheets and pillows, TV, USB phone charging ports, climate control and each pod has its own toilet.
The sleepbus will join the Maroochy Neighbourhood Centre’s services for the homeless, which includes hot meals, laundry facilities, medical help, financial counselling, employment support, drug and alcohol counselling, free haircuts and showers and lockers to store personal belongings.
The latest sleepbus brings the active fleet to four vehicles, which are providing safe sleeps in Melbourne, Queanbeyan and Canberra thanks to a number of partners who assist the organisation with donations and volunteering.
While CDC has partnered with sleepbus since 2019 – assisting with donations of buses, fuel, mechanical repairs and bus parking spaces – the Maroochydore sleepbus is the end result of the first bus donated to the charity by CDC Queensland.
sleepbus founder and chief executive officer Simon Rowe said that it was almost impossible to achieve something as significant as sleepbus without the generosity of others and the support of volunteers.
“CDC’s involvement has had a direct impact on how many people we are able to help, allowing them to sleep in a safe, warm space at night in a number of different communities around Australia,” he said.
“Getting the call from CDC letting me know they were going to donate one of their old buses was amazing and I am truly grateful for their support.
“Not only have Tony and the team provided sleepbus with buses, which we convert into safe, temporary overnight accommodation to get people off the street, but they’re ensuring our buses remain fuelled, repairing any mechanical issues and allowing the buses to be stored in their depots.”
Mr Rowe is currently working on another CDC-donated sleepbus built just for women and children in the Maroochydore area.
“In 2021, we launched our first pink sleepbus in Canberra as an exclusive service for vulnerable women and children, giving them a safe place to sleep assisted by an all-female volunteer crew,” he said.
“We look forward to bringing our second pink sleepbus to the Maroochydore area soon.”
CDC donated decommissioned buses from Coffs Harbour and Narrabri in December, which will factor into sleepbus’ future plans for Byron Bay, Hervey Bay, the Gold Coast and Tweed Heads.
CDC Regional Australia Division Chief Executive Officer, Tony Hopkins, said after the initial vehicle donation he wanted to further support the charity in its endeavours in other communities.
“At CDC we believe that providing public transport is all about serving the community with useful services and meaningful career opportunities and we recognised that sleepbus was also serving the community using buses,” Mr Hopkins said.
“We saw that partnering with sleepbus, and making more use of our resources such as buses and our depots, was an opportunity to make another difference to the community and to the lives of individuals who have found themselves in less fortunate situations.
“It’s incredibly rewarding to see our first donated bus as a finished product, now out and being used as intended and helping to make Maroochydore a safer place.
“We’re confident that with the help of sleepbus, more people in more communities will find their way out of homelessness.”
Simon Rowe founded sleepbus in 2016 following an encounter with a homeless person who explained to him the risks of sleeping on the streets at night.
Mr Rowe initiated the charity with a GoFundMe page which raised over $100,000 to help realise his vision for combining Japanese pod hotel-style accommodation with retired buses. For more information on sleepbus please visit www.sleepbus.org.