Cabins offer homeless people in Blackburn with Darwen a safe place to sleep this winter

Published Tuesday 8 December 2020 at 14:33

Known as the ‘People’s Pods’ these units will offer people on the street a space where they can keep warm and if needed to self-isolate.

The 10 self-contained pods are being installed today (Tuesday, December 8) and will offer emergency accommodation for those who might find themselves with no-where to live in addition to the borough’s existing homeless accommodation.

The current global pandemic has meant that the Council, like many others throughout the country, has had to re-think how it normally offers its communal emergency winter homeless accommodation.

The individual pods will be housed on the Shadsworth Leisure Centre site, offering a safe space for the most vulnerable rough sleepers.

They are insulated, have a bed, toilet, shower, light and key-coded door and have onsite security. The pods, which are being paid for from Government funding, also have kitchen access and an office for support to run from.

Mark Aspin, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s Community Safety and Safeguarding Lead, said:

Like many other Councils, providing emergency winter accommodation has been made more difficult by Covid as we cannot use communal accommodation. These pods will form part of our SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Provision) offer with individual rooms also secured with the Salvation Army and Bowdem court.

In the circumstances, we are pleased that we have been able to provide another solution that means we can maintain our longstanding commitment to having accommodation for everyone who needs it no matter their circumstance.

This particular location will have the benefit of on-site security, outreach and support teams there seven days a week.

It is difficult, as people have to want to be helped, if they do, they will have access to everything our partners and we can offer to improve their circumstances with the long-term aim of being supported to find secure and independent accommodation and get any help with addiction or mental health support that they need.

Mark added:

We can’t force people to take refuge, but we never give up on people and have staff working every day offering our support – we don’t want anyone to be sleeping rough in Blackburn with Darwen and this facility, combined with our wider housing offer, means no one has to.

Council Leader Cllr Mohammed Khan, CBE, said:

A safe space to sleep is so important for people who are homeless, vulnerable and often very anxious about their situation.

The borough has prioritised provided emergency accommodation for all during the winter months over the last 5 years.

We hope these units will hopefully help people take their first step out of homelessness and engage with the support services they need.

We are working with many partners across Blackburn with Darwen to support people in their time of need. The pods complement our existing offer and we hope to help many more people on their journey out of homelessness.

Cllr Khan added:

This year’s pandemic has put extra financial pressure on many people who were already struggling to get by. I urge anyone who is worried about rent or mortgage arrears, debts or bills to seek help urgently.

There are many organisations, including Blackurn with Darwen Borough Council, which can support you and may be able to prevent you losing the roof over your head.

Meanwhile we and our partners will continue working to deliver as much affordable housing as we can.

And whilst it’s not a perfect solution, we hope this local response will help some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

It’s no secret that we’ve had over 10 years of austerity and major cuts to public services. We urge the government to really look at properly funding public services to help get these people out of crisis.

The local authority also has an agreement with the Salvation Army of a bed for the night, irrespective of circumstance and previous behaviour that includes food, shower facilities and somewhere to store their property.

All referrals to the pods are managed by Blackburn with Darwen Council. If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness and need advice or support call 01254 585444 or visit

If you need assistance outside of office hours, call 07739454978.

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