Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

current issue

February – March 2024 : The little things READ ONLINE


Silk survival scarves

May 20 2009
Pocket maps to negotiate London‘s homeless services It has been almost 60 years since Londoners were prohibited from carrying maps during the Blitz, and many a cunning local sewed street directions into handkerchiefs and pockets. This wartime trend could be due a revival. Architecture student Tom Dulake has designed a silk map (prototype pictured), the foldable and highly delicate way of transporting London's city centre around in your pocket. Mr Dulake, who studies at University College London, came up with idea when he was given the brief to design a 'survival pack' for London. Rather than looking to the commuters' daily battle to reach their offices, Mr Dulake was inspired by the day-to-day survival of the city's homeless population. "The map presents all the information a person needs to survive in London's city centre, such as the location of hostels, day centres, medical centres, training and employment opportunities and libraries," he said. "It is easy for most people to access this information with the internet in almost every home or with money to by an A-Z map, but without either of these resources some people are reliant on word of mouth." Mr Dulake is surprised no such map exists today. The original World War II maps were created by the 'escape and evasion' department, and given to pilots in case they were shot down behind enemy lines. Londoners who had become confused by navigating the city without road signs soon adopted them. Silk is used because it is very durable, and can be folded up small enough to fit in a matchbox. After constructing a few prototype maps, Mr Dulake gave them to some hostel users in the city. "The results were mostly positive," he said. "In all cases the scarf served its primary function and provided a clear, up-to-date map of services." The silk map was also praised for its compact size and the fact that it is hardwearing and washable." However, the scarf is currently far from being the ideal Christmas gift. Some of the people who tested the scarf were not experienced map-readers, which has led to Mr Dulake reconsider distribution, and possibly training requirements. Another fly in the ointment is the price. The current production cost stands at ¬¨¬£30 per map, and Mr Dulake cannot afford to make enough on his student loan. "I am sure these problems can be overcome," he said. "With continued collaboration with organisations like The Big Issue, The Pavement and Crisis Skylight I hope to make the scarf available to more people on the front line who need it the most." For now Mr Dulake may have to consider getting additional funding from a more affluent resource, as he has also designed a cashmere pashmina map, that contains information of London's best shops and West End nightlife hot spots.