The Furzedown bus on fire on Moyser Road

Wandsworth loneliness charity fundraising after minibus blaze

A charity that combats loneliness among over-50s in Wandsworth has begun fundraising after their minibus caught fire two weeks ago.

The Furzedown Project’s minibus was scorched at 10:30am on 20 October when an electrical junction box on Moyser Road caught fire underneath the disabled bay where it was parked next to the project.

The project, which has 516 members, hopes insurance will cover the damage but started a GoFundMe to safeguard transport in future as it gets more expensive to run, amounting to £120 in fuel per month.

Sue Pearson, who runs the charity’s communications, said: “It was a traumatic event and we are so relieved no one was hurt and our minibus is repairable.

“But it really brings home how important it is to be able to provide transport to our most vulnerable members.”

It is suspected that the fire was caused by water entering the junction box after days of excessive rain.

Project members, who were taking part in an art class that morning, saw smoke coming from the pavement and went outside to see what was happening.

The emergency services were called immediately and arrived promptly.

All were evacuated safely and the fire was under control by 12:07pm but the minibus was scorched on its left-side panelling causing its plastic detailing to melt.

SCORCHED: Project director Sandra Shaw (right) and project members assess the damage

A highly-anticipated fundraising talk celebrating Black History Month was due to take place in the evening by author Kathy Casimir MacLean but was cancelled because of the incident.

The minibus, which is 10 years old, had transported people with mobility issues to the venue to take part in activities such as bingo, singing sessions, IT support, and fall prevention classes.

The project is hiring a minibus from Wandsworth Council to transport those who used the project minibus before the fire.

Pearson said: “This has really brought to light how difficult and expensive it is for our little charity running the minibus.

“But we consider it essential!”

The project, a registered charity, was established 48 years ago by Dr Norman Levinson and is funded by grants and affordable subscription fees.

Alongside their GoFundMe, the group are seeking sponsorship and fundraising with a raffle.

Image credit: Graham Loveland

In-text image credit: Sue Pearson

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