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Organisations from Newmarket and across West Suffolk have been working in partnership, to develop a community project encouraging prosperous and safe night time economies in West Suffolk.

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Issues in our communities

Newmarket has a vibrant night time economy with visitors from across the region coming to enjoy the nightlife and racing. But as with many communities in the UK, issues can arise that could be helped through neutral and practical assistance.

The West Suffolk SOS Bus

Further to this primary role in the night time economy, the West Suffolk SOS Bus has been developed to be a valuable community resource. The Bus acts as a mobile platform from which to run youth outreach work, health care awareness and training, and other roles identified by organisations, groups and communities in West Suffolk.

The Bus has been specifically designed and refitted to work with optimum flexibility and versatility, and has adaptable seating, a range of IT equipment, and a fully equipped medical area. Visit the Gallery page to see the story of the refit from start to finish.

The Bus specifications

  • 1994 Dennis Dart Marshall
  • 10 metre
  • 6 litre diesel
  • 2 door

How the SOS Bus projects began

In 2001 the first SOS Bus project began in Norwich after two young people were found dead, following a night out in the city.

Nightclub Managers came together with statutory and voluntary agencies, to work toward preventing further tragedies. Following a series of public meetings the community initiative was launched, having established a number of key elements: 

  • Safe Haven   A donated bus became the mobile base from which to offer support, and a visible focus for the project that the public soon began to know and welcome.
  • Radio System   The bus linked up with the town's Pubs, Clubs and Police via a two way radio system, allowing everyone to work together in co-ordinating assistance.
  • Practical non-judgemental assistance   The bus began to help people with a variety of presenting issues, and worked to relieve pressure on the emergency services.

Community and local businesses donated all the items required to make the project work. The proven success of the Bus in Norwich has inspired other UK towns and cities to start SOS Bus projects for their own communities, including Belfast, Colchester and now most recently West Suffolk.

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