Woman irons crisp packets together to create sleeping bags for homeless people12/03/2019
Working as a volunteer for a homeless charity, Pen Huston was upset when she had to turn away people looking for something to keep them warm because they had nothing less.
The 45-year-old knew that the charity Surviving the Streets UK simply didn’t have enough sleeping bags for everyone who needed one.
So she came up with an inventive way to help – creating her own sleeping bags from old crisp packets.
The arts and crafts business owner from Hastings, East Sussex irons together 150 empty bags to create one sleeping bag.
Pen said: ‘We help hundreds of people daily but we don’t get any funding, so we were running out of sleeping bags to give out.
‘I wanted to make something which could keep people living on the streets dry for longer.
‘I was lying awake one night and I thought it would be nice to get in a giant crisp packet to protect yourself from the wet and keep the warm in.’
Pen made an appeal for people to send crisp packets from across the UK to her, and she received thousands. She now takes 150 at a time and fuses them to a sheet of plastic as the foil packets work as insulation.
Pen adds: ‘All these sleeping bags will save lives.
‘This was about making something out of nothing.
‘We live in such a throwaway society, but not everything has to cost money.
‘All the homeless people we work with are really happy with them, they’re so grateful.
‘They’ve been using them in different ways, sleeping in them at night and using them for storage in the day.
‘One man who’d been living in his car for four years told me it was going to be fantastic for sleeping in his car, and another man used to have to sleep with two sleeping bags but only needed this one.
‘But really it’s horrific, really shocking that I’m having to do this – we live in one of the richest countries in the world and I’m sat making sleeping bags out of crisp packets.’
To date, a team of eight volunteers have created more than 10 sleeping bags and handed them out to ten rough sleepers in Hastings and the team plan to move onto nearby Eastbourne next.
She is now encouraging others to make their own sleeping bags and is working on creating tents and ponchos next.
She added: ‘It’s not feasible to stay in one long term but for a short period of time they could save your life, especially at this time of year.
‘You need 150 crisp packets per bag and just fuse the feet together, like an envelope.
‘Then I put air holes in them so condensation doesn’t build up and they don’t get damp.
‘And the plastic is all recycled – the only thing it costs me is electricity for the iron.
‘I want people to help people. But it’s definitely put me off eating crisps, having all those crisp packets round you is a wake-up call.’
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