Living on the streets is not a pleasant experience. Sleeping on the streets is the worst part about being homeless, you are cold, vulnerable and alone. Very, very few people will ever choose to live on the streets, regardless of whether they have an emergency shelter to sleep in or not.
Providing a small, custom-built shelter to help protect rough sleepers from the elements whilst also giving them freedom to sleep in safer and more secluded places they wouldn’t normally have access to is what’s needed (outside of having more emergency accommodation available and supporting people getting off the streets). Blankets and sleeping bags are not designed to be used outside as a first line defense against the harsh UK weather – when blankets and sleeping bags get wet, they lose all insulating properties and do the exact opposite of what they are designed for, when wet, they actually conduct heat AWAY from the body and can cause hypothermia, eventually leading to death. It’s not just rain/dew that can make the sleeping bags wet, condensation buildup is a primary cause which leads to hypothermia, this would not happen if a rough sleeper was sleeping inside an emergency shelter as condensation would then form on the outer most skin of the shelter.
People are dying on the streets from cold weather, especially hypothermia. Many others are dying on the streets from taking drugs to try and numb their senses to the cold. The majority of rough sleepers who now take drugs were not taking drugs prior to sleeping on the streets. The focus should be on saving lives and giving people the opportunity to avoid having to resort to alcohol and drugs to help ‘improve’ their time whilst on the streets.
There are a small percentage of people who choose to live on the streets and who are intentionally homeless – that’s their choice and they have every right to exercise that choice. Providing them with a more comfortable environment to sleep in is still a good thing.
The Project Bivouac shelter is not a place which one can live, it’s a shelter, barely bigger than a sleeping bag which adds another layer of protection against the weather and provides a place where somebody can sleep warmly for the night.