Former rough sleeper concerned at Council’s ‘sleeping pods’ plan

What the Sleeping Pods that could come to Bedford might look like. Image: Housing Committee via LDRS
What the Sleeping Pods that could come to Bedford might look like. Image: Housing Committee via LDRS

A former rough sleeper has told Bedford Borough Council she is concerned over plans for sleeping pods for rough sleepers at Wednesday’s Housing Committee Meeting earlier this week (15 November).

The Council is looking at providing pods for rough sleepers after a suggestion by a charity partner, But in a letter read out at the meeting, Shannon Johnstone, a former rough sleeper said she was “not convinced of the wisdom” of the idea.

Read: Council investigates ‘sleeping pods’ for rough sleepers

“Co-production where services are designed and delivered by an equal partnership between service providers, and current and former service users, has been seen to be an incredibly effective way to engage with individuals who may otherwise be reluctant to do so,” she said.

“If the council does not actively seek input from the individuals who have slept rough I believe it is likely that many will continue to do so and any subsequent claim that they choose to sleep rough will betray a lack of understanding of their situation.

“Will the council consider embarking on a journey to co-produce its homelessness service with those who have been homeless starting with the sleeping pods proposal?”

Committee chair, and portfolio holder for community safety, regulatory services and housing, cllr Phillippa Martin-Moran-Bryant (Conservative, Great Barford) said the sleeping pod idea is at a “very early stage”.

“I think it’s important to note that one of the reasons that we’re exploring it is because one of our charity partners came to us with this suggestion,” she said.

“And we thought it’s a good opportunity to look at how our service could be provided in a different way and how this might match people’s circumstances.

“So [we have] a suite of different options available to people, because one size doesn’t fit all and we recognise that.

“Feedback is really important from service users, from partners, from those in the sector and we are currently developing the homelessness and rough sleeper strategy.

“As part of that [the council] is looking very carefully at how partners, and services users in particular, can be involved in the consultation and can be involved in service design.

“We’re not in a full co-production space at the moment, that is very clear, but I do think that having that meaningful consultation is a step in the right direction,” she said.

by John Guinn, Local Democracy Reporter
and Paul Hutchinson, Bedford Independent