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Published: June 20, 2021 | Updated: June 21, 2021

“A dream come true” – Launch of mobile clinic bringing healthcare & support to the homeless

Pictured at the official launch of the HealthBus mobile clinic (left to right): Dr Maggie Kirk, Medical Director, Cllr Nigel Hedges, Chair, BCP Council; Angus Campbell, Lord Lieutenant of Dorset and charity Patron; Martin Woodgate, Volunteer; Gary Houghton and Chris Wakefield, Trustees’ Vice-chair and Fundraiser. Picture: Dorset Biz News.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

“It’s a dream come true.”

The words of Dr Maggie Kirk, Medical Director of the HealthBus Trust.

She was speaking at the official launch of the charity’s new HealthBus mobile clinic in Bournemouth.

The brand new fully fitted out vehicle has two clinical rooms and will travel to areas where people are known to be rough sleeping.

It allows GPs and nurses to provide basic healthcare and mental health support services to those in need.

Purchase of the vehicle followed a ‘Get Back on the Road’ fundraising campaign, launched last spring.

The £60,000 target was hit by December thanks to generous donations, fundraising activities and grants.

The largest single donation – £31,500 – came from the Talbot Village Trust.

Guests at the ribbon-cutting included Angus Campbell, Lord Lieutenant of Dorset and Patron of the charity; Nigel Hedges, Chair of BCP Council; volunteer Martin Woodgate and Gary Houghton, who is homeless.

Maggie Kirk, pictured, has worked for more than 20 years as a GP with a special interest in homelessness and addictions.

She has been part of the Crescent Providence Surgery in Boscombe, which has supported the work of the HealthBus, since 2003.

Maggie launched the HealthBus in 2016 after seeing how hard it was for people to engage with traditional health services while homeless.

It became a registered charity in 2019.

Speaking at the launch, she quoted the words of Kevin Filsell who was found dead under a Bournemouth flyover in 2018.

The cause of death was later established as pneumonia and heart trouble.

Shortly before he died, the 65-year-old wrote to Maggie saying: “This bus needs to continue as homelessness continues.”

Maggie said: “The new mobile clinic opens up so many possibilities.

“It’s a dream come true.”

Kevin’s sister, Pat Nightingale, pictured left, who also attended the launch of the mobile clinic, had not seen her brother for more than 50 years.

She only learned of his death after seeing internet reports.

Pat, 79, said: “I have contributed to this appeal.

“Kevin would have been very pleased to see this new HealthBus.”

Chris Wakefield, Trustees’ Vice-Chair and Fundraiser, said the charity’s annual costs were about £150,000.

“We heavily rely on fundraising and donations so would appeal to anyone who can help to get in touch,” he said.

To donate, please click here.

  • Donating £50 pays for the fuel and insurance for the HealthBus for one session.
  • Giving £30 pays for a face-to-face appointment with a GP.
  • Just £5 pays for ten rough sleepers to have tea, coffee and biscuits at a drop-in each week.