Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Sleep Pod, Ian Ashby, Justin Devereux and Pete Kenyon, 2018

When we began planning for the Endurance exhibition, we considered many different environments a person might find themselves in and how plastics materials can help them to survive in those particular conditions. For example, we wanted to examine difficult situations such as exploring the Arctic/Antarctic, trying to live in a Desert and adapting to fly at high altitude. One area we felt passionately about representing was much closer to home – living on the streets.

Image credit:

Although only first legally defined in UK legislation in 1977, for as long as this country has kept historical records, homelessness has been an issue. From 7th century vagrancy laws to Victorian workhouses to 1960s night shelters, awareness of the problem and public concern have both steadily grown. A large number of organisations and initiatives have been set up to provide vital support and specialist services for those in need but, sadly, homelessness continues to grow.  In 2021, the national charity Crisis estimated that approximately 227,000 people were homeless across England, Scotland and Wales. 

Image credit:

The Sleep Pod emergency shelter is one initiative, intended to be made available to outreach teams and charities for distribution to rough sleepers that have been unable to access overnight accommodation through existing services. It was developed over a number of years by friends Ian Ashby, Justin Devereux and Pete Kenyon, who had been volunteering in refugee camps across Europe in 2015. On returning back to the UK, they saw rough sleepers experiencing similar problems and made the decision to try to design a simple, effective solution for preventing people from succumbing to exposure on the streets.

Image credit:

The lightweight, rain and wind-resistant temporary structures are made from a double-skin, aluminium foil backed polyethylene (PE) bubble-sheeting, wrapped in recycled low-density PE, and taped over a bamboo frame to form a long triangular form with one end sealed and the other a Velcro-controlled entrance. The material successfully insulates the body and can achieve an internal temperature of 5°C (an equivalent next-to-body temperature of 22°C) whilst external conditions drop to -16°C.

Image credit:

First launched in 2018, the pods are constructed by teams of volunteers through build workshops, adapted recently into ‘Build at Home’ projects due to Covid-19 social distancing. To date, 6500 have been made by over 3000 individuals and community groups. The charity maintain that the Sleep Pod is not a solution to the homelessness crisis and work hard to develop strong relationships with partner organisations equipped with the expertise and experience that can help inform where and when it is appropriate to give out Sleep Pods within their local areas.

Image credit: MoDiP

If you would like to find out more, please visit the sleeppod website:

Katherine Pell
Collections Officer

No comments:

Post a Comment