The winter months of December and January have been the most demanding on homeless charities as the pressure for shelter for the homeless is at its annual peak due to the freezing temperatures.
However, with the support from dedicated Rotarians many lives have been touched this winter by Birmingham-based charity, Sleep Pod UK.
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Sleep Pod UK builds one-person, triangular prism shelters which allow a homeless individual to be protected from the elements, including snow, rain and the freezing temperature which come with winter.
During our time volunteering there were 2,000 refugees and the support being received from Britain was scarce.”
The pods maintain their warmth inside through insulation. Using double skin aluminium foil sheeting with a waterproof outer layer. Each pod is supported with bamboo sticks which are light and durable, making them easy to carry and assemble.
Complete pods can be manufactured for only £30, and this includes all materials that are needed. Building the pods takes less than an hour and is as simple as eight straightforward steps completed by volunteers.
Once completed, the pods are handed over from Sleep Pod UK to homeless charities. They are then distributed to those that need them the most.
Erdington Rotarians have supported the charity through donations as well as hands on help with building the pods during meetings.
The club has also engaged with the local community to encourage people joining the ‘build at home’ programme.
The project was set up in late January 2022 allowing those who cannot commute an opportunity to help. With each person building five to ten pods and more than 60 people signing up, over 365 pods were built for the first collection.
Sleep Pods’ story began when co-founders, Justin Devereux, Ian Ashby, and Pete Kenyon met during their time volunteering at a refugee camp in Calais, France. Very early on, they all realised how dire conditions were for the refugees.
Freezing temperatures became the biggest threat to the estranged families who were forced out of their home countries fleeing wars and political uproars. Strangers would huddle together around fires seeking the slightest feeling of warmth and security in the bitter weather.
Building the pods takes less than an hour and is as simple as eight straightforward steps completed by volunteers.”
“During our time volunteering there were 2,000 refugees and the support being received from Britain was scarce,” explained Julian. “The ever-occurring threat to the people we were looking after was the cold.
“We were constantly giving out tents which have been collected from festival grounds, however, they would soon become ineffective.
“Blankets and sleeping bags would be wet and dirty, and the waste was extreme.”
Following this experience, the trio decided to take action and to create the sleep pod design. Justin handed over built pods to already established charities in Birmingham for distribution.
He explained: “The majority of people that did give their feedback used the words ‘life’ and ‘saving’.”