Frome 'Iron Man' makes crisp packet blankets for homeless

By Liz Lewis
BBC News

Image source, Iron Man
Image caption,
Mr Porritt has been called "an inspiration" by the YMCA branch that previously supported him

A former homeless man has been turning empty crisp packets into insulated sleeping bag liners for rough sleepers.

Miley Porritt, 23, of Frome, Somerset, said he had two loves - ironing and eating crisps.

"Since lockdown I've set up my own ironing business so now I can put the two things together and do some good," he said.

It takes about 150 packets to make one liner and they are sealed together using the heat from an iron.

The foil in the packet would reflect a person's body heat back on to them to help keep them warm.

Mr Porritt spent five years rough sleeping and living in a YMCA hostel before getting his own flat in October.

"When you're on the street staying warm and dry is really hard so these liners will make a difference and I want to give something back to the people who helped me," he said.

Image source, Iron Man
Image caption,
Miley Porritt was homeless for five years and now runs an ironing business

"I love crisps so this is a great way to help others," he said.

He also said he finds ironing "really satisfying" which "makes me a bit unusual".

Mr Porritt lived for a while at the YMCA in Mendip and a spokesperson for the charity called him "an inspiration".

"We are very proud of how far he has come and are glad to have been part of his journey so far," they said.

"Miley has turned his life around and what is even more heartwarming is his determination to contribute and make a difference to other people's lives with his survival blankets."

Mr Porritt has put a call out on his Iron Man Survival Blankets Facebook group asking crisp lovers everywhere to send empty washed packets to his business address so he could turn them into the liners.

Image source, Iron Man
Image caption,
Ever since posting on social media, boxes of crisp packets have been arriving to help Mr Porritt create more blankets

In less than a week he has had more than 1,500 shares and hundreds of comments from people asking how they can get involved.

One of the groups to have replied was the Blond Angels street team, which gives hot food, toiletries, clothing and sleeping bags to rough sleepers in greater Bristol, Bath and Gloucester.

"We go through sleeping bags like nobody's business in winter because on the streets they don't last long before they're wet, smelly and unpleasant," said Kayleigh Gardner from the group.

"These liners will prolong the life of the sleeping bags so we can help more people."

The group has asked its 2,000 members to save washed packets and said it has had "a fantastic response already".

Ms Gardner said she would be asking big supermarket chains if they would allow crisp packet donations to be given to Mr Porritt for the liners and also planned to ask senior schools to install crisp packet bins to collect the empty bags.

"Each bag takes about 80 years to decompose so we hope people will want to see the bags go to good use instead of landfill," she said.