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Posted on the 6th July 2020

A nurse is ensuring vulnerable people get a warm place to spend the night by making sleeping bags out of used crisp packets. 

Sam Dawes, a nurse with Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Trust, is spending her free time recycling hundreds of crisp packets and turning them into insulated covers for homeless and vulnerable people.

The Physical Health Liaison Officer, based at the Trust’s Blackpool site The Harbour, has converted her spare room into a mini factory to turn the bags of rubbish into sleeping bags after being inspired by a video she saw on YouTube. 

The finished products will be given to a local charity to hand out to people sleeping rough or those not always able to switch on their heating. 
The bags, measuring 6.5ft in length, are designed as a waterproof, insulated cover to go around regular blankets and bedding, ensuring a warm, dry night for those using them.

Sam, who has worked for the Trust for three years, ran a crochet group for staff at The Harbour, which was making sleeping mats for vulnerable people until COVID-19 restrictions called meetings to a halt.

Keen to do something from home, she discovered an online video that showed crisp bags being recycled and decided to have a go. 
The individual packets are opened up before being hand washed and then undergoing a second clean in her washing machine. They are then hung out to dry on a washing line before beginning the process of matching them up in size order.

About 150 packets for each sleeping bag are then ironed together in rows and then larger rectangles before an extra plastic layer, from unwanted mattress wrapping, is ironed over to make them extra watertight.

Trust colleagues have been collecting bags to pass on to Sam and Blackburn-based Select Medical, which provides mattresses to its sites, has offered plastic packaging it has finished with.

Sam has finished three sleeping bags so far and hopes to continue with the idea with one of the trust’s social groups once social distancing measures are lifted.

She said: “It’s quite a long process at the moment, with each one taking about five hours, but it’s given me something to do during lockdown when I’m not at work. It’s difficult to think about people, and maybe children, being cold and you’d hope that everyone would have a bed to go to where they can be warm, but unfortunately that isn’t the case.

“We already do collections for food banks in the area so we’ll be speaking to the charity to see how we can distribute these sleeping bags and continue to help in the future.”

Anyone who can donate crisp packets for Sam to use should send them to The Harbour FAO RGN Sam Dawes, Windmill Rise, off Preston New Road, Blackpool, FY4 4FE.