POP-UP accommodation for rough sleepers - which includes sensors to track whether people are still breathing - is being piloted in York.

The scheme, which uses microwave technology to ensure rough sleepers seeking shelter are safe, has been launched by The Salvation Army, with support from City of York Council.

The charity says ‘NAPpad 20’ (Night-time Accommodation Project) provides temporary accommodation to help people who are finding it difficult to get off the streets and into accommodation.

NAPpads are fitted with non-invasive ‘vital life signs’ sensors sensitive enough to detect whether someone has stopped breathing so emergency services can be alerted, giving responders vital minutes to save a life.

York Press: NAPpad's offer a private space to those who need it. Picture: David Harrison and the Salvation Army

The sensors are based on technology used to combat sudden infant death syndrome.

Each NAPpad room is self-contained with toilet and wash facilities, a security door, window, power point, is lined with insulation panels and equipped with a small electric heater and LED light.

The charity says that not only do they protect rough sleepers from a harsh winter on the streets, the pads offer a dignified and private space to sleep.

Malcolm Page, Salvation Army assistant director for homelessness services, said: “Sadly, most rough sleepers have multiple health problems as sleeping on the streets is dangerous and tough on the body so these pads mean we can keep people safe as well as warm and dry. A key element in our ‘trauma-informed’ approach, they provide dignified sanctuary from the streets for people who may be suffering from mental health issues.

“People end up being forced to sleep rough for so many reasons which can include poor mental health, addiction, relationship breakdown and job loss. Tackling homelessness is more than offering shelter, it is helping people to move on from the reasons they were forced to sleep on the streets in the first place.

“The pads offer an informal setting to meet with our support team to explore more permanent housing and support options.”

York Press: How the NAPpad's look from the outside. Picture: David Harrison and the Salvation Army

Former rough sleeper Jay, 19, said: “It would have made such a difference to me – to have a warm bed, a locked door and safety. It would have meant not having to choose the street over a hostel.

“The technology to make sure you are safe is amazing. Knowing that it’s safe and if something goes wrong, someone is going to help you is a comfort. On the streets, if you can’t breathe nobody knows, nobody knows where you are and nobody can call for help. This will be life-saving.”

Cllr Denise Craghill, City of York Council's executive member for housing and safer communities, said: “We are always looking for innovative solutions to help support our most vulnerable residents, particularly during the winter. We are pleased to support this Salvation Army pilot project, which will add extra options to the services currently offered to rough sleepers and those in need of emergency accommodation."

York Central MP Rachael Maskell said the NAPpad scheme was an "innovative solution to provide dignity and independence in a safe environment for some of York’s most vulnerable residents".

She added: “From monitoring someone’s vital signs to providing a safe, secure and comfortable micro-flat for the night, someone without a home or means, can be guaranteed a safe, warm and dry night."

The Salvation Army and Protectal Ltd are looking to roll NAPpads out more widely.

The NAPpads provide accommodation at the moment of need. Referrals can be made via the York EIP hub at 63 Lawrence Street between 10am and noon Mondays to Fridays, or through referral agencies.