Homeless pods designed to keep rough sleepers safe are denied funding
The pods were launched in October but haven’t been seen since
The roll out of pioneering sleeping pods for homeless people has been dealt a blow.
The so-called “pods”, described as an emergency space for rough sleepers, were manufactured by charity group Amazing Grace Spaces.
The units, which offer a warm self-contained space with a bed, chemical toilet and light, were launched in Newport back in October.
Husband-and-wife team, Stuart and Caroline Johnson, who run the charity, showcased two pods on Bridge Street in Newport city centre in an effort to attract interest from organisations and councils.
The two prototypes were funded out from the couple’s own pocket – with each pod costing around £5,500 to produce.
So, where did they go?
Stuart, the charity’s founder and designer of the pods, was in talks with Newport City Council, who were looking to help the charity secure funding for the project.
However, the funding application, which went to the Welsh Government, was rejected.
Stuart said: “When we launched the sleeping pods, we had such a fantastic response from both housing professionals, the public and the homeless and we are deeply disappointed and perplexed as to why funding for them was turned down”.
“The sleeping pods are a relatively inexpensive short term emergency accommodation option for the homeless to keep them safe away from the dangers of sleeping in doorways, tents and in underpasses.”
A spokesperson for Newport City Council said: “A funding application to Welsh Government was submitted by Newport City Council in partnership with the Pobl Group and the Wallich.
“It focused on three themes: the provision of additional outreach support for rough sleepers, additional and intensive move-on support and the pod accommodation.
“Two parts of the bid were approved but, unfortunately, funding was not provided for the pods.
“The council is currently considering options as to how this scheme could be funded and supported from potential avenues.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are investing more than £20 million in tackling homelessness and rough sleeping over the next two years.
“This includes funding for projects in Newport to fund more outreach workers to work proactively with people who are sleeping rough to support them into longer term, stable accommodation.
“We will continue to work with Newport City Council and other partners to prioritise the most effective appropriate projects to support people to move off the street and into longer term housing solutions.”
What now for the pods?
Amazing Grace Spaces will be utilising the two sleeping pods that were showcased and have arranged with a local businessman to house the two sleeping pods at the back of his premises.
Stuart said: “We need to put some final touches to the sleeping pods and arrange insurance and put in place the support required to maintain the pods and we hope to get them out before Christmas.
“We will not give up and will continue to talk with councils across Wales and the Welsh Government to get more of these pods out on our streets so our homeless have a safe emergency shelter to sleep in rather than sleeping in shop doorways.”
Amazing Grace Spaces says its does not see this as a solution to homelessness but as an inexpensive option to keep homeless people safe when they need emergency shelter.
They are now looking at other options for funding and one of those is to start their own fundraising campaign, which should be set up in the next few weeks.
For more details, visit the charity’s website.
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