A new support bus will enhance mental health and wellbeing services for hundreds of young people across Dorset.

Run in partnership by local charities #Willdoes and Dorset Youth, the bus has been purchased and equipped with funding from Talbot Village Trust.

The partnership has enabled the #Willdoes youth outreach double-decker bus - purchased and kitted out thanks to a £22,000 grant from the trust - to travel across towns and events across the region from its stationary base in Swanage.

Mike Bennett, Chief Executive at Dorset Youth, said: “Our partnership with #Willdoes is giving us the opportunity, together with other local community youth services, to continue to make a positive impact on the lives of young people in Dorset and the popularity of the bus, in both town centres and at events, is a testament of that.

“Youth workers from the Drop-In Portland have had more than 250 interactions with young people on the bus, seeing them using the mobile facility as a safe place to socialise with friends over hot drinks and snacks as well as talk to the professionals when support is needed."

The charity encourages local youth organisations to come on board and use it as a base to provide support to young people facing difficulties with their mental health and well-being in local communities across the county. Youth organisations and services using the bus include Houseworks Dorset, Dorset Council and MyTime Young Carers.

Lesley Paddy, Founder Chair and Trustee at #Willdoes, said: “Funding from Talbot Village Trust enabled us to achieve our biggest goal, which was to tackle the lack of youth provision, funds and safe spaces in Dorset. It’s fantastic to now see what positive impact the #Willdoes youth outreach bus is having in communities since it went on the road in partnership with Dorset Youth.”

Caroline Cooban, Chief Executive at Talbot Village Trust, says: “It’s tremendous to see the #Willdoes youth outreach bus being deployed in areas across Dorset. It’s important for the Trust to support and provide funding for a service that reaches out to young people and goes directly to them.

“Professionals on board can build effective and meaningful relationships and help develop strategies so every person visiting the bus leaves with a sense of purpose. Youth provisions such as the #Willdoes bus ultimately support our children to achieve goals and build a positive and successful future.”

Talbot Village Trust awards up to £1m every year, supporting various causes across east Dorset and including youth and education groups as well as community-focused projects. The charity is encouraging further local causes to apply for funding ahead of its next application deadline on January 31, 2024.