SOS NI charity celebrates highly successful year thanks to significant cash injection

  • Charity SOS NI is celebrating a successful year of helping vulnerable people in Belfast city centre following a significant cash injection from Destination Cathedral Quarter BID.

    As the nightlife in Northern Ireland becomes increasingly busy, it's more important than ever to ensure that there's a safe space for those who need help. The charity SOS NI was created in 2007 to tackle this issue following an incident in which founder Joe Hyland's son was violently attacked on the street. Since then, it's grown to become the largest volunteering charity in Northern Ireland.

    The striking yellow SOS busses can be seen on Belfast's streets every weekend, offering support to the vulnerable people on the streets of Belfast. Joanne McQuillan, Director for SOS NI, commented on the success the scheme had last year: "Last year (2018) trained SOS volunteers worked over 18,000 volunteer hours over 164 shifts during the night-time economy period, festivals and events across Belfast. Throughout the year SOS Volunteer supported over 30,000 and provided crisis interventions for almost 1,500 people."

    The 60-ft busses can usually be found at City Hall and Shaftesbury Square on Friday and Saturday nights, acting as a safe space for anyone in the city centre at night, providing everything from verbal support or a cup of tea to directions and medical support. Volunteers have interacted with 342,000 people since the scheme started 11 years ago, and has supported over 12,800 people with significant medical and welfare support.

    Private sector-led business improvement district group Destination Cathedral Quarter BID (Business Improvement District) invested £8,500 in SOS NI last year. Destination CQ manager Gareth Neill commented on the group's committent to helping people in the area:
    "The work SOS NI do through their buses in the city is invaluable, most commendable and very welcome. Unfortunately, there are people out at night who, for whatever reason, can find themselves in difficulties - so having the SOS NI volunteers in the area is absolutely vital. This service has most probably saved lives in some of the more extreme cases so we are delighted to be able to provide this investment to help them continue with their fantastic work."

    Source: Written based on press release

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