British charity launches “brilliant” nap pads to keep rough sleepers safe
Danielle Jarvis

Danielle Jarvis November 25, 2021
Each NAPpad unit has four individual ‘sleep pads’, keeping rough sleepers safe.

A British charity has launched an innovative new pop up accommodation product for rough sleepers that not only gives them a safe place to sleep, but allows them to can track that they are still breathing.

The Salvation Army in York is rolling out what they call the ‘NAPpad 20’ (Night-time Accommodation Project), which uses microwave technology to ensure rough sleepers seeking shelter are safe. The pads have been designed by a local firm, Protectal Ltd, in association with The Salvation Army.

The NAPpads provide temporary accommodation to help people who are finding it difficult to get off the streets and into accommodation. The pilot is also being supported by City of York Council, who have temporarily provided land for the scheme and support for those using the Pads.

The Salvation Army says that the NAPpads are fitted with non-invasive ‘vital life signs’ sensors sensitive enough to detect whether someone has stopped breathing so emergency services can be alerted, giving responders vital minutes to save a life. It says the vytalsigns sensors are based on technology used to combat sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Malcolm Page, Salvation Army Assistant Director for Homelessness Services, said: “Sadly, most rough sleepers have multiple health problems as sleeping on the streets is dangerous and tough on the body so these Pads mean we can keep people safe as well as warm and dry. A key element in our ‘trauma-informed’ approach, they provide dignified sanctuary from the streets for people who may be suffering from mental health issues.

“People end up being forced to sleep rough for so many reasons which can include poor mental health, addiction, relationship breakdown and job loss. Tackling homelessness is more than offering shelter, it is helping people to move on from the reasons they were forced to sleep on the streets in the first place.

“The pads offer an informal setting to meet with our support team to explore more permanent housing and support options.”

Former rough sleeper Jay, said: “It would have made such a difference to me – to have a warm bed, a locked door and safety. It would have meant not having to choose the street over a hostel.

“The technology to make sure you are safe is amazing. Knowing that it’s safe and if something goes wrong, someone is going to help you is a comfort. On the streets, if you can’t breathe nobody knows, nobody knows where you are and nobody can call for help. This will be life-saving.”

The NAPpads are mobile so they can also be moved to other locations.

The Salvation Army and Protectal Ltd are looking to roll NAPpads out more widely.