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Crunch move: how 5,000 crisp packets are helping keep London homeless warm

The Barnet community has donated over 5,000 crisp packets to a local funeral arranger who turns them into warm foil blankets for London boroughs with some of the highest levels of homelessness. 

Lorraine Gould, Funeral Arranger at M M Broad & Sons Funeral Directors on Woodside Lane, has so far created six blankets, using 75 crisp packets each, for rough sleepers in Tower Hamlets and Lewisham after appealing for people to drop off their leftover packets in a wheely bin outside the funeral home. 

Lorraine said: “In 2018, Tower Hamlets was in the top 10 of local authorities in England with the highest levels of homelessness according to Shelter, the charity and housing association, with Lewisham not far behind. 

“Many homeless people have to be prepared to sleep through wind, rain and cold nights, and foil is a very effective material when it comes to retaining heat.” 

Lorraine began collecting crisp packets after seeing an advert for the Crisp Packet Project on Facebook, which creates foil sleeping bags, blankets and more from crisp packets donated by its supporters for rough sleepers, and put a completed blanket in the front window of M M Broad & Sons. 

Lorraine said: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the response and enthusiasm for this project. Each blanket takes me about four hours to make, as I need to take the crisp packets home then wash, dry, and iron them so they fuse together. I’m now never short on crisp packets thanks to the Barnet community.” 

Keare Pearce-Downey, organiser of the Crisp Packet Project’s Lewisham group, said: “The support Lorraine has showed to the project as a whole is phenomenal. Our Lewisham group alone has received a number of blankets and thousands of meticulously washed and cut packets from her, all ready to be made into blankets, ground mats and more. 

“We distribute these life-saving items to local outreach centres and shelters for their service users on the streets.” 

Lorraine continues to send crisp packets to the charity and hopes to one day progress to making foil sleeping bags. She concluded: “Sleeping bags take about 250 packets each, which is a mammoth task, but one that is well worth it.” 

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