TOWNS across the district are set to benefit from a new SOS Bus as part of a project to help support vulnerable people in the area.

The SOS Bus outreach project has been launched by Braintree Council.

It comes after the council was recently successful in applying for funding from Essex County Council’s ‘Changing Futures’ programme to deliver an outreach bus.

Changing Futures is a aimed at helping people within local communities who otherwise can’t access the services they require.

The SOS Bus, managed by the charity Open Road, will offer help to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, street drinkers or drug users, or in need of guidance and signposting for issues including housing, domestic abuse, debt and mental health, or are in contact with the criminal justice system.

A variety of organisations are involved in delivering the project and have identified Braintree, Halstead, Witham and Silver End as priority locations for the bus to visit.

The bus will visit on a twice-monthly basis over the next two years.

The schedule and locations will remain flexible.

Other group involved in the project include Phoenix Futures, Open Road, Peabody outreach support, NHS mental health services, Essex Police, Community 360 and Hope House Essex.

Stacey Banner, welfare and volunteer manager at Open Road, said: “Open Road is very excited to be involved with the Changing Futures project across Essex and really looks forward to helping partner agencies in supporting the vulnerable and disadvantaged in the community.

“We are hoping bringing the bus to them will encourage people to access support to enrich their lives for the better.”

Council communities boss Frankie Ricci added: “I’m very glad we secured funding from the Changing Futures programme to help support the most vulnerable people in our community in an accessible way and provide a safe space.”

Kevin Bowers, housing, assets and skills boss, added: “The SOS bus will provide a much needed resource for homeless people in the district and ensure support services can provide outreach to those who can’t easily travel around the district or county.”