29 November 2019
This week in Bristol we’ve seen a ground-breaking, lifesaving initiative brought to the region by the local music community that perfectly sums up the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention”.
The Sleep Pod was invented and designed by three people who spent time helping people fleeing from war, persecution and natural disaster in the refugee camps of Northern France and on the streets of Paris, where freezing temperatures and difficult environments at night threatened – and claimed – lives.
Sadly, we now have our own ‘refugees’ in the UK to take care of on the streets – those not from other countries, but vulnerable people displaced by extreme poverty. So, the Sleep Pod is now being used to help our people not die in the cold and dark.
It looks like a cross between a tent and a sleeping bag, works with a special insulation that contains body heat, so even if it’s -6 degrees outside it’s 11 degrees in the pod.
According to local government statistics around 80-85 people a night sleep on the streets of Bristol alone and recent reports show homeless people in the city are dying at twice the national rate.
Homelessness in general has risen in the UK by more than 165% in the last decade with 726 people dying in 2018 – a 20% increase on the year before, which is the highest rise since figures began in 2013.
Bristol, as ever, has stepped up and the local music scene pooled £10K to bring 400 Sleep Pods to the city, Bath and Weston Super Mare to help our roughsleepers stay safe, dry and warm this winter.
Supporters include the sold-out homeless music event Give a S*** Xmas which is taking place on December 12thwith local legends IDLES and Geoff Barrow’s Beak>, Love Saves the Day, Boomtown Fair, Shambala and the owners of The Plough, Refresh West and The Lazy Dog.
Organisers of the initiative are now seeking volunteers to help with two Sleep Pod builds taking place on Dec 14&15 using some of the local festival warehouses.
Helpers are also needed for distribution, which is being coordinated alongside Feed the Homeless and Homeless Emergency Action Bristol.
This is an emergency measure to stop people dying on our streets this winter – not a replacement for hostels and other services where homeless people can also receive shelter.
As Shada Nasrullah, Trustee for Feed the Homeless Bristol, said: “The levels of rough sleepers are increasing and those who are on the streets will die younger because of the impact this has on their health.
“Not only are rough sleepers more susceptible to illness and infections, they’re also having to deal with our harsh winters. Having somewhere warm and dry to sleep will save lives and improve the quality of life for some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”
We supported the initiative this week highlighting the work being done and our amazing local media responded with coverage in the Bristol Post, Bristol 24/7, ITV West Country, Bristol TV and BBC Radio Bristol as well as nationally.
The innovative and inventive solution to saving lives, which is done on an entirely not-for-profit basis, can be supported here and if you’d like to volunteer for the build locally email Joby firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more information.