Crisp Packets into Sleeping Bags; Cambridgeshire Cadet Helps Homeless People Prepare for Winter

27 November 2020

Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet Sgt Rhyder Cameron-Wickes is completing the Volunteering aspect of his Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award by making sleeping bags to help homeless people- from empty crisp packets.

This idea, called the Crisp Packet Project, was invented by Pen Huston in 2019 as a means of providing cost effective protection from the cold to homeless people.

Foil lined packets are melted together with an iron, on low heart, to form large sheets. These are then covered with plastic sheeting, also ironed on, and then joined to form Bivvy bags, large sized outer bags which will fit around a regular sleeping bag, together with personal possessions. Sgt. Cameron-Wickes says; ‘Everything is made out of crisp packets and plastic that is melted together. Because crisp packets are made from foil, they keep a lot of heat in, which makes them really good for helping the homeless. I started doing this because it helps me give back to the community while also passing my volunteering section of the DofE Award.’

Rhyder has advertised for crisp packets on the Cambridgeshire ACF pages and on other community discussion pages. This was noticed by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire who interviewed him on 24th November and broadcast it the following morning. BBC Cambridgeshire has also Tweeted a short video about Sgt Cameron-Wickes activities. This publicity has resulted in more than 300 crisp packets already arriving.

Each finished sleeping bag will be packaged up with a donation of gloves and hat and distributed to food banks and other charities where they can best reach those in need.

150 packets are needed to make one sleeping bag, meaning he will require many more. He said: ‘As of right now there is no target for how many bivvy bags I want to make, but I am aiming to continue making them to the end of next year.’

‘I’m feeling good about the project, there have been great responses to it from the public saying that they are willing to share it around, support it and send their crisp packets to our drop off points and it’s also a rewarding way to spend any spare time I have.’

The DofE Award is an important aspect of Cambs ACF’s activities, as it teaches important skills and builds self-confidence. It also fits perfectly with our Values, one of which (clearly demonstrated by Sgt Cameron-Wickes) is Selfless Commitment.

County DofE Officer U/O Ros Whyall said; ‘DofE has been very challenging during lockdown. Sgt Cameron-Wickes has excelled himself during these difficult times, not only by completing his Silver Certificate of Achievement but progressing onto his Gold award and then set about this brilliant idea. Not only is he helping those that are less fortunate in the community, but he has also asked other cadets enrolled on their award to support him, should they need to complete their volunteering section. This is a great project and I wish him the best of luck in completing it.’

Empty crisp packets can be delivered or posted to March or Chatteris Detachments or to the FACT charity located at 5 Martin Avenue, March.

The instructions on how to build the bivvy bag can be found on YouTube and also the organisations website which is https://crisppacketproject.com...

Text by PI Doug Stuart, with thanks to Sgt Cameron-Wickes, U/O Ros Whyall and SMI Gemma Offer.

This article was published in The Cambs Times