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Pods for the homeless removed over 'safety'.

Byline: JOSHUA KNAPMAN Reporter

PODS installed as safe spaces for homeless people have been removed from their site in a Welsh city centre.

The pods, described as an emergency space for rough sleepers, were manufactured by charity group Amazing Grace Spaces and the prototypes were showcased in Newport in October 2018.

The charity was then dealt a blow when funding was rejected by the Welsh Government, who at the time stated they were "investing more than PS20 million in tackling homelessness and rough sleeping over the next two years".

In February 2019 the first pods were then installed at a Newport business, where they helped the charity gain an insight into how they would work to help those who have been living on the streets for some time, and for those who have no prospect of gaining accommodation.

Now, following a multi-agency meeting, Newport council has asked the charity to remove the pods until certification is sought to ensure the pods are structurally sound, and until appropriate council-approved alternative sites have been found.

The charity claims it took expert advice and used industry-standard building materials to comply with safety standards and building insurance cover. The pods are said to have fire-retardant exteriors and interiors and fire safety doors.

A charity spokesman said: "These are the emergency measures AGS designers have put into the pod build and this offers a much safer environment than people living in tents, doorways, or subways.

"We are a small charity, and are trying to ensure there is a joint effort to end homelessness and help people out of crisis.

"The request for certification is a huge ask for such a small charity, and with other projects coming up is difficult to finance.

"We are in discussions with testing organisations to establish what certification can be done on the pod as nothing like it has been done before."

The charity added: "We are working with other organisations in the UK that have positive approaches to innovation and are supplying them with pods."

A spokesman for Newport council said: "Newport City Council is committed to supporting any project that is aimed at tackling homelessness.

"Newport City Council has been endeavouring to work with Amazing Grace Spaces to find an appropriate location for the pods, as well as ensuring they are sound and safe.

"A multi-agency meeting was held earlier in the summer which included Amazing Grace Spaces and all parties agreed the pods should be moved to a site where they can be properly monitored and managed.

"It should be noted that it is the council, or other organisations, that have helped those using the pods into accommodation."


<B The Amazing Grace Spaces homeless pods in Newport

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 29, 2019
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