Shipping containers do more than just move precious cargo across the sea. Today, upcycled, modified containers are now being used in new and exciting ways that go way beyond their humble beginnings of transporting goods. From helping startups and grass-root businesses to grow, to housing students in Amsterdam, the modification potentials of shipping containers are endless. With a little bit of creativity, they can be turned into whatever you want. They have even been used for social projects and have helped to address one of the biggest social issues at the moment – the rising rate of homelessness.
The UK is currently in a housing crisis, with many being unable to get on the property market due to soaring house prices, despite having a regular income. This is particularly worse in the capital, where the rise in new jobs and opportunities has not been equally matched with building new homes. Surprisingly, this has caused a trickle-down effect, as the limited housing has resulted in the poorest being pushed out of the property market altogether, reliant upon temporary housing solutions. This has increase the number of people without a home to call their own.
In 2017, it was estimated that there were 4,751 rough sleepers across the country, increasing on average by 169 per cent since 2010. But this doesn’t even include people who may be staying in hostels, squats or B&Bs, or maybe sofa-surfing between the houses of friends and family. Shelter, the housing charity, says that around 320,000 people are homeless in Britain. Often, people become homeless because they cannot afford somewhere to live, fall into poverty due to redundancy or unemployment or personal issues. This has not been helped by the fall in places for homeless people to go, resulting in fewer options for those with no place to rest their head. But luckily, there are some everyday people who come up with some pretty ingenious solutions.
Homelessness is a vicious cycle that is often difficult or near impossible for rough sleepers to get out off. This is often because it can be extremely difficult to get into full-time employment without a permanent address where you can register a bank account. By providing temporary housing for homeless people, modified shipping containers can provide the stepping stone to help rough sleepers get out of the cycle of homelessness. Helping them to make the first step to rebuilding their life. They are also easy to adapt and modify, making them a quick and efficient option for constructing places to sleep quickly.
First trialled in Brighton back in 2014, converted shipping containers are now being seen as an efficient, short-term solution to the lack of temporary housing for homeless individuals and low-income families. Help Bristol’s Homeless is a social enterprise that began in 2017, converting shipping containers into homes. Inspired to do more to help those living rough, founder Jasper Thompson create new homes from containers, fitted with a small living space, a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom – fully equipped and ready to house a rough sleeper for an entire year. So far, Help Bristol’s Homeless has helped to transform the lives of at least 40 people, as everyone who has been helped by the project is given the support that they need during their time there, as well as working and attending support sessions.
A self-contained home that provides tenants with their own privacy and independence, which can go a long way to renewing their optimism. In December 2017, the largest temporary housing development for homeless people was made possible with the help of refurbished shipping containers. The container village in West London gave 290 people a roof over their heads thanks to a partnership between Ealing Council and QED Sustainable Urban Developments.
Both these projects built on previous smaller projects, such as the sleeping pods developed by the charity Amazing Grace Spaces in Newport. Offering affordable accommodation and emergency shelter solutions for those in need, Amazing Grace Spaces provide homeless people that vital first step from living on the streets. Providing spaces that are secure, warm and self-contained, all of their converted containers come with a bed, chemical toilet and phone charger. Not only do they help tackle homelessness, but they also address one of the biggest causes of homelessness – unemployment. The 10+ programme requires all residents to do at least 10 hours of work, volunteering or training each week, helping them to build up skills and work experience as well as attending support sessions.
It’s no wonder that people are using shipping containers to help address the housing crisis. Converted shipping containers offer a highly adaptable form of accommodation as they are easy to modify and redesign. As a type of modular home, they are also eco-friendly as they are repurposing an existing structure, as well as being quick to construct and can be redesigned and upcycled numerous times. They are also flexible, in that they can be moved easily, which is great for making temporary use of available land that was previously derelict or is currently unused.
Interested in helping those in need? Or maybe you are inspired to start your own modification project of your own? Get in touch with Unit Hire today to find out how to kickstart your shipping container idea!