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Pod life...

May 22nd 2009
The St Patrick's Church Trust in Hove, Sussex, is working on an innovative design to develop individual sleeping pods (pictured) which provide much needed security and warmth from cold coastal nights. The pods, which will incorporate a single bed, personal heating controls, easy-clean interior, storage space, alarm system and space for a dog, are hoped to be a big improvement on over-crowded dorms. They even have celebrity backing, with musician Sam Preston, of the Ordinary Boys, donating the £50,000 he made from appearing on Celebrity Big Brother earlier this year. Intended for inside use only, the pods are designed to provide more privacy and security for people using temporary accommodation. Father Alan Sharpe, who runs the St Patrick's Church shelter, hopes to introduce them over a period of two years. The idea came about when their funding was stopped because of the lack of security residents had in their shelter, and that women could not stay as a result. So, St Patrick's was forced to act. "We thought about using the Japanese sleeping pod units, to develop a self-contained sleeping area," said Stephen Sharpe, of St Patrick's Trust, "We worked with a few designs, asked some of our residents what they thought, and the response was mostly very positive." The initial idea - a simple horizontal pod, which provided little room to move or stand up in - was felt to be too claustrophobic, and so the design evolved through several other creations before the final style was chosen. They estimate that after the prototype has been built, each pod will eventually cost "in the hundreds," and be easy to assemble. Sharpe is confident that the idea can be transported to other cities in the country. "We're hoping to work with organisations in London," he added. While they are realistic that this is not an alternative to housing, Sharpe believes that this will make the move from temporary accommodation to a more permanent home an easier one. The scheme has met with scepticism from other organisations. A spokesperson from Crisis said: "Temporary shelter is not a solution to homelessness. It is about more than just providing a roof over people's heads." "I was a bit surprised at their response," said Sharpe. "Our experience tells us there is a real need for something like this." The concept must first complete a consultation period with residents, Brighton and Hove Council and designers before work can finally be started on production.

July 2006



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