As the 2013 World Police and Fire Games (WPFG) get underway, a Northern Ireland charity is encouraging locals to help Belfast show its best side and live up to its promise of hosting ‘the friendliest Games ever.’
One of the three official charities to the Games, SOS Bus NI, has provided caring support to the distressed and vulnerable on the streets of Northern Ireland since 2007. The charity is calling on local people to join them in their efforts to provide a warm welcome to WPFG contestants, families, friends and spectators during the Games, which run from 1-10 August.
Over the next 10 days, in addition to its usual weekend services at Shaftesbury Square (Friday and Saturday night) and the Odyssey (Saturday night), SOS Bus NI will mobilise its two distinctive yellow bendy buses to provide additional services at Custom House Square and Shaftesbury Square on each weeknight until the end of the Games. Its minibuses will also be available to provide help to those in need throughout the Games.
An additional 40 volunteers have been recruited to help the charity deliver extra caring support on the streets of Belfast for the duration of the Games.
Joe Hyland, chief executive of SOS Bus NI believes the sporting event, which will be the biggest ever hosted by Belfast, offers an important opportunity to project a positive image of Northern Ireland abroad.
“As we welcome thousands of visitors to Northern Ireland, I would urge people to consider the fantastic opportunity the World Police and Fire Games give us to show the world what a great place this is.
“When they go home, let them tell the stories of the people who made their visit here special. Let them say to their friends, ‘The Games were great and the people were fantastic .’ We have a real opportunity to make positive steps towards improving the perception of our city abroad; I would encourage everyone to play their part by showing our famous Belfast welcome to our visitors.
“Our volunteers will be out in force, providing a friendly welcome throughout the Games and we would encourage others to do the same – it costs nothing to be nice but the rewards are plentiful.”
SOS Bus NI, founded in November 2007, is a unique charity initiative which supports distressed and vulnerable people across Northern Ireland that have overindulged in alcohol or drugs; have been victims of violence; are homeless; separated from their friends, or are in emotional distress.
The charity’s distinctive yellow bendy buses take pressure off the city’s overstretched A&E departments and emergency services by providing on the spot help and care to those in need. Over the last five years, SOS Bus NI’s dedicated team of over 200 volunteers have clocked up over 21,000 hours on the street, helping over 5000 people to get home safely and serving over 200,000 cups of tea, coffee and soup to the thousands of people that descend upon the city each weekend.
SOS Bus NI is one of the three official charities that will benefit from donations made to the 2013 World Police and Fire Games, alongside Senac and the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children.
The public are invited to share their good deeds during the World Police & Fire Games with SOS Bus NI on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SOSBUSNI , or by tweeting @SOSBUSNI using the #WPFG hashtag.
For further information about how to volunteer, or make a donation, visit www.sosbusni.com