40-foot Containers of Hope for Africa and India
With the aim of helping others help themselves and others, the people behind Australian charity Container of Hope are on a mission to send 40-foot shipping containers packed with donated and recycled goods to assist poor and vulnerable communities around the world. They seek to bridge the gap between needy communities and people who can afford to give away their things. Their projects have no completion dates because they wish to continue this movement of choosing to respond to the kindness shown to you by being kind to someone else.
Image: Container of Hope
To date, their container projects have helped many people in Africa and India with causes such as supporting communities in their medical and educational needs, giving to orphanages, as well as facilitating livelihood training for women affected by the 1999 Makobola massacre.
Image: Container of Hope
“To date, we have successfully sent 24 containers to people in need in various places worldwide by God’s grace and provision.”
It all began when Christopher and Kerrie, the founders of Container Of Hope, went on a trip to India. Kerrie realised that her workplace was disposing of things that she felt could have been of better use to the people in India than sitting in a pile at a landfill site. The duo started saving items for donation and storing them in a shipping container until enough was gathered to ship it to India. From this shipment forth, Christopher began Container Of Hope, partnered with Rotary Donations in Kind as well as Mission World Aid, and became a registered charity via the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) in November 2015.
Bristol’s volunteer-run social enterprise to combat homelessness
Homelessness has doubled since 2010 across the UK, with Bristol ranking second in the number of rough sleepers in the country. In January 2017, mayor Marvin Rees had unveiled an ambitious strategy to tackle the problem, but plans for 100 emergency beds failed due to insufficient funding. The locals took to social media to find a solution, creating Facebook pages like “Keep Bristol Warm”.
One example of a social media project taken to the next level would be the project started by Jasper Thompson and Julie Dempster, Help Bristol’s Homeless. First, Jasper posted a Facebook status asking if his friends had spare clothes to donate, then headed into Bristol city centre with his wife, Tania, to hand out the supplies along with soup, hot water for washing, and essentials such as clean underwear and socks. “That first weekend, we helped about five or ten people. The next it was 15 or 20, then as word got around we ended up servicing around 70 people every other Sunday.”
That initial Facebook status became a community-wide response to the homelessness crisis in the city, moving Jasper to set up a dedicated page where people can offer donations or share information about individuals in need, and local businesses offer skills or services. A few months on, he began converting used shipping containers into temporary accommodation and setting up the social enterprise that helps local rough sleepers get back on their feet.
However, it doesn’t just end there. Jasper stresses that the key to his approach is getting the homeless community involved in the work by enlisting them to help paint and convert the container. “If people come and stay here, they have to earn their keep and show they’re helping themselves – they need to attend their drug programmes, if they’re in one, and help with the cooking, cleaning and upkeep, so they can hopefully learn new skills.” He’s also planning on using his business network to find employment opportunities for the people he houses.
This phenomenon of volunteer-run social media projects is also witnessed in cities around the country including Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds. Even New York considers shipping containers to be a viable solution to provide shelter for the homeless due to the fact that they are low in cost and can be installed instantly after being shipped.
When interviewed by Independent.co.uk in May 2017, Jasper expressed that his long-term plan is to expand the model to other parts of the south west and, eventually, the rest of the UK.
Shipping container social housing inspires future projects
What started off as an experiment to build social housing in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver using recycled shipping containers has prompted the non-profit organization behind the project to begin work on an even larger development.
The initial development, The Alexander Street Project, is the first in Canada to utilize shipping containers as building materials. The compact housing community of two buildings and a courtyard is built on a site just 25 feet wide. Including land and construction cost, the $3.3 million project is a beautiful example of contemporary architecture.
Rental prices at the 12-unit development are low to allow the residents to have a safe and attractive place to stay without worrying about how they are going to pay the rent. Six of the units will go to renters who will pay 30 percent of their gross annual income to a maximum of market rent. The other six will be home to older women who have been homeless or at risk of homelessness and rent for $375 a month. Some of the new residents of the shipping container housing will be chosen to serve as mentors to the young women at Imouto as part of an Atira program.
Each unit is an average of 290 square feet and includes a living room/bedroom, a small kitchen, a full bathroom, and laundry facilities. Although small, the apartments are comfortable and feel like real homes. You would never have guessed that their shells were once used to ship consumer goods across oceans.
According to Vancourier.com, using shipping containers as the exteriors of the buildings helped keep costs down for Atira Women’s Resource Center, the group behind the project. They didn’t put elevators in the three-story buildings, and they struck a balance between cost-saving and making the homes comfortable and attractive places to live.
Due to the success of this project, the resource center is planning to start a project that will house young women at risk of domestic violence.
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