all aboard the night bus

intrepid foundation project nochlezhka in russiaOn the streets of St Petersburg every night thousands of homeless people are trying to survive freezing temperatures.

There are more than 30,000 homeless people living on the streets of St. Petersburg (by official statistics) but experts believe is more like 60-70,000. In winter the temperature ranges from minus 9 to minus 15 degrees Celsius. In conditions like these hot food becomes a necessity that ensures people’s survival on the streets, however there’s no possibility for a homeless person to cook hot food for themself. In a lot of cases, these people do not even have access to clean water.

This is where the Nochlezhka Night Bus project steps in and helps saves lives. Every day two specially appointed minibuses drive out to districts, located far away from the centre of the city. On the stops, volunteers give out hot food to homeless people, street children – to everyone who is asking for help. Social workers talk to the people, help them with advice, give directions on how to get to a medical centre if needed, how to get to a shelter, and they give out warm clothes. A nurse provides first aid where required.

Every night from 7pm to midnight one bus makes stopovers near the subway stations: Lesnaya, Prosvesheniya, Chernaya Rechka and near Smolenskoe cemetery and the other bus helps homeless people who are living in Frynzeskiy, Kirovskiy and Krasnoselskiy districts of the city. Around 100-150 people come to each bus every evening. Night bus volunteers found out that homeless people living in the outlying districts of the city knew little about social organisations where they may get assistance. For the most part, social and medical assistance units that provide help to homeless people are located in the centre of the city. And for many homeless people public transport fares constitute substantial amount of money, which they prefer to spend on food. Nochlezhka and their Night Bus helps to address some of these problems.

Intrepid Travel and The Intrepid Foundation is very pleased to be able to help such a positive and effective organisation. Grigory Sverdlin, Nochlezhka’s Executive Director tells us that according to their data, within 2011 the number of the homeless increased by 500 people. About 30% of them are women. On a brighter note, the Night Bus project is supported by more than 50 volunteers. Their average age is 25 years old and they are supported by becoming members of a ‘special club’ which holds theme parties, events and much tea drinking! The Night Bus also relies on the support of the city’s entrepreneurs, who currently donate almost all of the food that’s given out from the bus.

The Intrepid Foundation – celebrating 10 years of travellers making a difference & over AU$3 million in donations!
You can help support Nochlezhka and other great organisations via the Intrepid Foundation, plus find out how your donation can be matched* by Intrepid Travel!

* Donations will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$5000 (or equivalent) per donor and a total of AU$400,000 each financial year.

Photo: © Nochlezhka

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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