Rough sleeping has risen by 134 per cent in the last seven years and there are a host of ideas and plans on how to tackle the issue.
Sam Mitson, from Poole, Dorset, has decided to put his decade of expertise as an architect towards providing warm shelter for those living on the streets with his Thermo Shelter concept.
The portable structure promises to raise temperatures “by around 10 degrees” over a tent with a frame of insulation boards constructed with bungee cord and stoppers. A waterproof membrane ensures that the shelter remains dry by keeping it raised off the ground to prevent rising damp.
The entire structure folds away, like a tent, allowing it to be used as a lightweight emergency shelter in the event of extreme weather, as seen during ‘The Beast from the East’ when StreetLink referrals skyrocketed as the UK was battered by winter storms in March.
And Sam, who developed the idea after a bout of depression inspired him to volunteer with Poole homeless charity Routes to Roots, insists that he is keen to build a relationship with local charities to provide the emergency shelter as a way of helping battle sub-zero temperatures.
“I’m an architect who specialised in life disaster relief at uni so it has always been an area of interest for me,” he said.“I wanted to design something that was better than a tent basically and it is around 10 degrees warmer.
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
“I built it, slept in it and now I’m speaking to homeless charities on how I can get it out there. At the end of the day, it helps make a difference to one person short-term then it is worth it.”
The Thermo Shelter project is still in its early days, according to Sam, with plans to tweak the design based on feedback.
— ThermoShelter (@ShelterThermo) May 16, 2018
And to assist him getting the project off the ground, Sam is crowdfunding £2,000 on Just Giving.
But he has already delivered his first shelter to a man named Chris, who has been homeless in Poole with his dog Coco for just over a year.
“I have had a lot of positive responses since I showed off the plans but there are a couple of hurdles to overcome. One is where people will put this and the other is if it goes wrong how will it get fixed.
“I’m hoping to make it slightly narrower so that it is more portable because it folds away into a backpack at the moment but it is quite big.
“Hopefully the idea will get a bit of momentum and then we’ll see how it goes from here.”
You can donate to the Thermo Shelter campaign here.