Home News Commonweal Pods highly beneficial for night shelter guests – report

Megan Fereday

Commonweal Pods highly beneficial for night shelter guests – report

A new report has found that an innovative flat-pack accommodation project developed by Commonweal Housing and ReedWatts Architects has affected a wide range of benefits for guests at night shelters.

The Pods were piloted in three different locations across London in Winter 2018-19. Independent evaluator Leila Baker found that the Pods were “universally liked and welcomed” by guests and staff at the Crashpad Shelter, the 999 Club and the Islington Glass House.

Benefits for users included:

  • Privacy – giving guests time to themselves, the ability to dress in private and the opportunity to retreat “when the bustle of the shelter gets too much”
  • Storage – a place to hang clothes, store possessions and decorate gave guests a sense of ownership over the space
  • Safety – especially valuable for women and other vulnerable guests, as well as guests who may otherwise be reluctant to use the shelter
  • Comfort – the Pods were reported to be considerably more comfortable than sleeping on the floor, which was particularly valuable for those facing long workdays

Challenges experienced by shelter managers in assembling, storing and managing the Pods have been used to inform a Practical Framework for Replication, which is included in the report.

This is designed to assist further organisations who could benefit from using the Pods for their guests, and prepare replicators for adapting the Pods to different shelter environments.

We got back a great number of positive endorsements for the pods from staff, volunteers and guests. Guests ‘love them’ without exception and regardless of whether they get to sleep in them.

Leila Baker – Commonweal Housing & Reed Watts ‘Flat Pack Pods’ Evaluation Report Summary, 2019

The Pods were developed by ReedWatts for Commonweal’s Starter for 10 competition in 2016, in response to the experiences of a group of migrant workers in North London living in makeshift tent encampments. ReedWatts’ research found that this group needed short-term, transitional accommodation that could be used whilst they were working in an area and then packed up. The Pods were designed to meet these short-term needs.

In 2018 the Pods were awarded second place for Innovation in Housing at Homeless Link’s Under One Roof conference, and were also shortlisted for the 24housing Awards 2018 in the Innovation category.

Commonweal Housing is now working in partnership with Housing Justice and ReedWatts architects to scope out new short-term replication opportunities for the Pods.

If you would like to learn more about the Pods and how you could use them in your shelter, please contact Housing Justice.

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