“This could save lives,” shared one Newport resident, as the Welsh city at large welcomed “sleeping pods” in 2018: a duo of safe emergency accommodation for the city’s homeless community.
Newport in Wales, like many major cities, faces a huge homelessness crisis, and the charity Amazing Grace Spaces unveiled two pods in October of 2018 after recording a peak in the number of Newport’s rough sleepers. A local businessman gave permission for the pods to be situated on land at the back of his site.
“People who are homeless are living everywhere,” said Stuart Johnson, the design and operations director for Amazing Grace Spaces, speaking to the South Wales Argus. “They are in parks, under bridges and in doorways,” he continued. “These are not safe places to be.”
There is no set time limit for users of the pods, and the charity hopes that they will have the chance to build meaningful relationships with the rough sleepers who use them. “The main aim is to get them off the streets,” Johnson added.
Good morning! Day 3 is upon us already!…Caroline is available today between 11-2 to chat to anyone, or pop on down to see the Pods for yourselves if you've not yet had the chance. …
The pods cost between 5,000 (US$6,548) and 6,000 (US$7,858) pounds each, and as of February 2019, they are occupied by two rough sleepers. The pods provide access to a bed, a light, a toilet, and even a phone charger.
Newport residents who spoke to their local newspaper have largely been very supportive of the charity initiative. Allt-yr-yn resident Jon Millership shared: “This is great work from the charity and those who have helped make it possible. It gives an emergency lifeline to rough sleepers. Rather than battle the cold,” he added, “they can be inside one of these great pods.”
the PODS are still coming!!!!… sneaky peek pic #2 !…..keep posted for a date to see a Pod on display in Newport soon!
Cardiff Road resident Laura Williams agreed with Millership. “There are too many homeless people out there,” she lamented. “It is important to get rough sleepers off the street and somewhere safe at night.” If rough sleepers are making good use of the pods, Williams continued, then they must be effective.
Some of Cardiff’s residents remained reticent, but hopeful. “I hope they work,” said David Prosser of George Street. “If they can turn people’s lives around then I will support them.”
However, some residents’ reservations held more conviction as they worried about the temporary nature of the pods. “How will it work in the long term?” asked a fellow George Street resident, Basil Sujeeun. “Rough sleepers need help but I do not think this will work.”
A statement from a member of the homeless community who used the pods, on the other hand, is difficult to dismiss. Doorways and tents had sufficed for almost three years since the 39-year-old fell on hard times and found himself without a roof over his head. But the man, who chose to remain anonymous, admitted to the South Wales Argus that he became so desperate for shelter that he considered committing a crime in order to reap the benefits of a “warm prison cell.”
“I love the pod,” he shared. “I feel safe in there—that was not the case in the tent. It really did save my life.”
“I now want to go into supportive living, he added. “That is my aim. I feel that my life is turning around.”
The charity plans to increase the number of pods in Newport, but it won’t be easy. “We desperately want these pods to be here permanently,” said charity trustee Caroline Johnson. “We need support and sponsorship … we want as many organizations as possible to get in touch and say they are interested in helping us.”
Throughout 2019, Amazing Grace Spaces continues to strive for the support they need to fulfill their global ambition: a world where the homeless are not sleeping rough on the street.