Card beds for homeless people

Card Beds facebook page

The new Card Beds website

I have designed a bed for homeless people that is simply made out of card and that makes a significant difference to the difficulty of sleeping rough.

It is inspired by cardboard furniture that I have seen by various people and relies on interlocking pieces for its stability. This is the third version which has been tested and is found to work well. It measures 192 x 60 x 18cm (6ft 3in long).

Homeless people describe how sleeping on the ground is so cold that it goes through their bones and makes their joints hurt so it is very difficult to sleep like this. This bed raises them off the ground, doesn’t conduct temperature from other sources and is softer than the concrete.

IMAG1352 mk 3

I designed it so that it can be disassembled into parts that are small enough to carry around during the day and that is simple enough to put together in less than 5 minutes.

IMAG1356The upper section is made from 4 pieces which slot into the 3 pieces of the base so that it overlaps and stays together. There are 4 more base supports and these right angles provide stability for the bed, which, as long as it is kept dry could last for months.

It is important to get properly strong cardboard as it has been found to weaken due to re-assembly and dis-assembly. We can get rigid 2-ply card from bike shops with no problem so try asking at one near you. It’s important to carefully assemble and disassemble it to prevent the card bending and needing to be replaced.

The full instructions for how it is made can be found on this Instructables page.

You can also download the pdf of the instructions here.

There are two ways that it can be kept dry: firstly, if the user can find a covered area to make the bed under or if not, they can find large plastic sheets/ bags from shop bins that were used for large items they’ve had delivered.

If a thick plastic bag can be found that the parts can all fit into, that would be ideal and it can be secured with a long piece of string that is wrapped around in a way that it also forms the handle by which it can be carried.

IMAG1361_1This shows how strong it is and that it actually does work but please watch the video below which goes through the assembly and also has interviews with a homeless couple who tested it and found that it makes a huge difference.

This can be used for refugees as well as homeless people and I’d love to hear your stories and see photos of what you do with the beds where you are. Please send a photo and a quote from the person/ people who benefit from them to emailaddressPlease send your feedback using the comments box. Please note, before you send a message, please read the FAQs.

Here is a simple assembly instructions sheet that you can print out to use and give to the people who need to use the beds.

Click this one to get a simple sheet of the steps to follow when making the pieces (when you already have the templates and are showing other people how to do them).

making the pieces poster

18 Responses to Card beds for homeless people

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  3. Shalyn says:

    This is is fabulous idea glad they won’t be sleeping in floor

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  7. Luke Hannington says:

    I wonder how expensive it would be to make these from corrugated plastic that could be kept in a nylon bag.

    • Elliot Lord says:

      The problem with that is having to pay for materials takes away the unlimited potential to deliver help to everyone. Funding would be needed, which would be specific to one area so more funding would be needed for another place, whereas using strong card is free and available all the time.

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  11. DavidBC says:

    Where would you source the card from? 3 layer is not that common.

    • Elliot Lord says:

      True, 3 ply is rarer but I find that bike shops are the best for 2 ply card that is very strong.

  12. Marianne Law says:

    Bless you Elliot for being a kind and generous humanitarian-you are making a difference in the world

    • Elliot Lord says:

      Thank you! However, it will require a lot of people to make these to make the real difference. 🙂

  13. Hi there

    Myself and two other friends are joining Julian House to stay overnight in the big sleep out to raise funds for the homeless in Bath and I would like to purchase 3 of the boxes you have designed for the night and then plan to give them to the homeless in Bath to use themselves.

    Would you be able to help me out for this event. It takes place at Alice Park on the 4th of March.

    Thanks Helen

    • Elliot Lord says:

      Hi. They are not for sale and the only way to get them is to make them. You can find all the instructions on this site and
      All the best.

  14. Patrick Burns says:

    Hi Elliot,

    My names is Patrick and I’m a Engineering masters student at Exeter University. I’m two weeks in to a ten week funded project to develop a sleeping mat for the homeless community.

    I like your design and especially the concept of reusing cardboard as it is such a cheap and environmentally friendly use of resources. It is clear that a lot of work has gone into your design and I was wondering if it would be possible for you to sent me any information you think might be relevant to my project. I would be very grateful and I’m sure it would be helpful.

    I have some ideas of my own and I would be really appreciate your input.

    Kind Regards

    Patrick Burns

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