Perhaps one of the most crucial elements of the shelter is finding the right material to use for the structural pole elements of the design.
After rushing in to buying SpeedFit plumbing pipe as a “cheap” and temporary means of creating my first prototype I realized that was a big mistake as the pipe almost relaxes into whatever shape you bend it into, which is great for plumbing, but not so great for making emergency crisis shelters!
This I found out after measuring out all of my poles, bending them into the correct shape, and putting together my first prototype frame, I came back the following day only to find that my shelter looked a little floppy and lacking rigidity – I discovered that the poles had relaxed into their stressed shape and lost all structural integrity…
There are numerous homeless shelter designs currently on the internet, some are good, some are simply not practical. It also seems that there are only a few designs that have actually made it to market and are being manufactured. I suspect this is because it’s simply not commercially viable to design, develop and manufacture a product which is given to the end user for free. We don’t have to go into this though.
Find below my preliminary market research to see what’s currently out there. In no particular order.
For a number of years whilst I was at university in Bristol I used to volunteer at the Julians Trust Homeless Shelter (also known as the Bristol Night Shelter). It was here I got my first experience of homelessness.
Amongst other things, the shelter provides warm meals, showers and professional support for around 80 people per night. Each night it also supplies 18 emergency beds for the homeless, people that would otherwise be sleeping on the streets.
Like almost all other homeless shelters, the Julians Trust shelter relies on donations and volunteer support to operate. The running costs for such an establishments are very high, and even though the shelter is only open in the evenings through to the morning (9.30pm and 10.30pm), for 5 days a week, it still costs in excess of £1,500 per week to run (2013)).
Personally, I believe there should be more organisations like the Julians Trust to cater for the increasing number of homeless people ending up on the streets each week but I’m a realist and I understand that organisations like the Julians Trust take a lot of time, effort, money and passion to start up and continue operation and these aren’t always in great supply.