Innovation That Matters

Refugee life jackets turned into warm mattresses

Sport & Fitness

UNHCR volunteers on the Greek Island of Lesvos are using discarded life jackets to make well insulated mattresses for refugee camps.

We’ve seen how refugees moving across Europe are receiving entrepreneurial help in Finland, and now UNHCR volunteers are helping those who make landfall in Greece stay warmer and more comfortable in winter.

After becoming concerned by the vast number of life jackets discarded after the refugees make shore at the Island of Lesvos, Danish volunteers Mads Damgaard Peterson and Anezka Sokol wanted to re-appropriate the trash. Refugees were sleeping on frozen ground in temporary tents, and the foam-filled life jackets could provide suitable mattresses with good insulation and comfort, so the pair began sewing sets of three together. With hygiene concerns surrounding shared mattresses, they have begun work to develop sets of life jackets that can be placed underneath tent canvases, providing for refugees making the journey by sea throughout the winter.

Street artist Banksy has donated of parts of his Dismaland installation to help build structures in the Calais refugee camp ‘jungle’. What are some other surplus materials that can be reused in makeshift environments?



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