Wigan school’s crisp packet project helps homeless

A Wigan teaching assistant has shown that recycling snack wrappers could be a life-safer.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 2:25 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 2:30 pm

Eve Parkes, who is also the eco-lead at Worsley Mesnes Primary School, came across an initiative which turns crisp packets into survival blankets for the homeless.

The packets, which would otherwise be discarded, are quilted together and the layers provide surprisingly good insulation, much in the same way that foil capes are given to long distance runners at the end of a race.

The plan is that once several have been fashioned, they will be donated to a homelessness charity.

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Headteacher Helen Smart, back left, and teaching assistant and eco-team leader Eve Parkes, back right with students at Worsley Mesnes and their survival blanket

After learning of the concept, Mrs Parkes became inspired and decided she would give it a go herself with the help of the pupils on the eco team.

Mrs Parkes said: “Being an eco-rep means that we are constantly looking for ways to make our school more eco-friendly.

“During lockdown, I was scrolling through Facebook when the project appeared and thought it would be a great idea as we throw away thousands of crisp packets each week.

“I spoke to the children and they were really excited about it and thought it would be a great idea.

Members of the eco-team with the survival blanket

“Crisp packets can take 50 years to decompose, so it’s good to find another use for them.”

Crisp packets are an ideal material for survival blankets as they are waterproof and the silver lining reflects heat, keeping the body warmer for longer.

Children throughout the school from the nursery right up to year six have been involved with the project.

Some of the children made collection points which are located in various areas across the school, such as in the lunch hall and staff room.

Nursery children helping to clean the crisp packets

Once the crisp packets are collected, a team of children help clean and dry them and then cut them.

Mrs Parkes then takes the wrappers home to fuse them together with an iron to construct the blanket.

Mrs Parkes added: “It has been really well-received by all the children and for the younger ones especially it has been a sort of sensory project in a way.

“Thanks to all their hard work it has been really easy to construct the blankets. We started collecting them on a Tuesday and by the weekend I had made the first blanket.”

It takes around 75 packets to make one blanket and there is currently enough packets to make another two.

The aim is to have made 10 blankets by Christmas: “Our motto is ‘reduce, reuse, recycle and save lives.

“Once we have made the blankets, we want to donate them to a homeless charity like the Brick and do our bit to help the homeless.”

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