Work begins on Redcliffe sleepbus

Published 12:00pm 2 March 2023

Work begins on Redcliffe sleepbus
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

Work has started on fitting out Redcliffe’s first sleepbus, which is expected to arrive mid to late 2023.

The $100,000 bus is a first for the Moreton Bay Region, and was made possible by the team from The Breakfast Club Redcliffe.

They set out with a goal of raising the necessary funds and were able to achieve that thanks to a number of generous donations from the community including their own contribution as well funds from The Jelley Family Foundation, Commbank, Kedron Wavel and the Moreton Bay Regional Council.

The bus will feature 18 individual sleep pods and will ensure people who are homeless or sleeping rough will have access to a safe place to spend the night.

Each sleep pod will consist of a bed with a memory foam mattress, clean bedding, ducted heating and cooling, its own toilet, iPad, and USB charging port.

There are also interchangeable doors allowing parents to sleep with their children, and pets are welcome too.

Sleepers will be kept safe with CCTV surveillance and can store their belongings under the bus.

Overseeing the construction of the bus is sleepbus Founder Simon Rowe, who works out of his depot in Melbourne.

Speaking to Moreton Daily, Simon explained the process of how a normal bus is transformed into temporary accommodation to help society’s most vulnerable.

“The Redcliffe sleepbus has been with us here for a few weeks now, and luckily for us, the bus came with the seats already ripped out, which is always the first job,” Simon said.

“We then take out all the windows and strip out the side of the bus before it goes to our fabricator just around the corner who will then weld the frame.

“After that is done, the sleepbus will come back to us and we will sheet it up and enclose it nice and tight to make sure no water will get in.

“We will put in the walls, the wiring, the heating and cooling system and everything else that will make the sleep pod comfortable.”

Working with an extremely small team, Simon says it can take them up to six months to complete a bus.

“There are only three people working at sleepbus but we always get the job done,” Simon said.

“It takes us approximately 20-24 weeks but we work on them as quickly as we can.

“When we have a bus at the fabricator, we are always working on another bus, so we do work on them as quickly as we can.”

Simon will personally deliver the sleepbus to Redcliffe once it is completed. It is not yet known where the Redcliffe sleepbus will be parked during overnight services.

Currently, sleepbus has services in Queanbeyan, Canberra and Maroochydore.

Simon has just recently completed a sleepbus for Sydney, and is working on a second bus for Maroochydore, two buses for Byron Bay and one for Hervey Bay.

Work begins on Redcliffe sleepbus
Above: Work has begun on stripping apart the inside of the bus. 

Providing safe accommodation for everyone

Anybody who finds themselves without a roof over their head can use the sleepbus service.

There are no criteria to meet, and bookings are not needed – it’s a first come first served basis, so all you need to do is show up.

Having experienced what it is like to be homeless himself, Simon understands how scary and overwhelming it can be to find a safe space to sleep.

“When I was 19 I became homeless for a few months,” Simon explained.

“I had a job, was living in an apartment in Adelaide, and then one day my car blew up.

“I didn’t have the money to fix it so I used my rent money because I needed the car to get to work.

“I ended up getting evicted and lived in my car for four months.

“Thankfully, I still had my job so I was able to save up money while sleeping in my car until I could get another place.

“But if I didn’t have my car or my job, I wouldn’t know where to go for help.”

With more people and families struggling to make ends meet, Simon said more needs to be done to help those who find themselves in the situation of being homeless.

“Affordable housing is the only option but we need more of them,” Simon said.

“Everyone should have the right to a home and a safe space, regardless of their situation.

“When I started doing some research into homelessness and housing I found lots of gaps in the system. I looked at different scenarios and options like shipping container houses, but they were too costly.

“I needed a way to keep people safe and healthy and that’s when I developed sleepbus.

“It is here for people that need a safe space to sleep for one night, a weekend or even longer, depending on their circumstances.

“But in my opinion sleepbus shouldn’t exist – more long-term solutions are needed.

“But I am going to do my part in providing people with a safe space to sleep until such a time it’s no longer required.

“I would be more than happy to go out of business if it meant there was more affordable housing.”

Work begins on Redcliffe sleepbus
Above: sleepbus Founder Simon Rowe shows off the sleep pods on a finished bus. 

Register to volunteer or sponsor the bus

To ensure the sleepbus can help people in need, a dedicated team of volunteers are needed to look after the day-to-day running of the bus.

Each sleepbus service is operated by a 100 per cent volunteer force, 365 nights a year.

Volunteer roles in Redcliffe will be run solely through sleepbus, not The Breakfast Club.

Volunteer roles include a caretaker who will sleep in a private cabin to ensure everyone’s safety over the course of the night, as well as people to help assist with boarding guests, drivers and housekeeping.

Each bus also needs sponsors to ensure sleepbus can operate.

Sleepbus doesn’t take any government funding, and relies on donations and sponsorship to do the important work they do.

If you would like to volunteer or sponsor the Redcliffe sleepbus, visit the sleepbus website.

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