Local Girl Turns Crisp Packets into Bivvy Bags for The Homeless

Gillian McCann, Grape Tree Sales Assistant at Eastgate Shopping Centre, has started a Crisp Packet Project group for Inverness and the Highlands, along with her cousin Lesley Fraser.

The Crisp Packet Project was initially launched in November 2019 by Pen Huston, a volunteer for the ‘Surviving the Streets UK’ charity.

The charity was constantly running out of sleeping bags and bivvy bags, so she started thinking about ways she could help.

In November 2019, she woke up at 2.00am with an eureka moment – “what would it be like if I woke up in a crisp packet?”

With the mission of giving life to single-use plastics whilst also saving lives; a combination of sustainability and charity, Pen Huston’s early hour’s revelation has now transformed the lives of hundreds of homeless people, who now wake up in her bivvy bags made from upcycled crisp packets.

A bivvy bag can protect a sleeping bag in cold and wet weather, with the crisp packets providing an ideal material – they are waterproof and the silver foil lining reflects the heat and keeps the body warmer for longer.

The project has now grown into a nationwide network of volunteers making sleeping bags and other survival items for disadvantaged people in their own communities.

Gillian McCann who launched the Crisp Packet Project for Inverness and the Highlands at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, said:

“When the lockdown was announced and I was no longer able to work, I was looking for a project to keep myself busy whilst also wanting to do something that would help the local community.”

Ms. McCann added:
“I initially heard about the Crisp Packet Project whilst watching a documentary on Channel 4.

“At the end of March, I then came across YouTube videos about the initiative which encouraged me to research further and find out how I could get involved.”

Along with the help of Lesley Fraser, Building Manager at Great Glen House, Gillian has now made 4 bivvy bags along with 13 survival sleeping mats, with Highland Homeless Trust distributing when required.

She is also starting to contact other council areas in Scotland, and if required, the bags and mats which will transform the lives of many homeless people will be posted down.

To help spread the word, Crisp Packet Project Inverness/Highlands will be in the Eastgate Centre on Friday 4th December from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm and will be on hand with further information about the initiative, along with demonstrations.

Customers are also welcome to drop off emptied and washed crisp packets.

With Phase Eight already donating protective clothing plastic, the rest of the retailers at Eastgate are also being encouraged to get involved by providing clear plastic from deliveries which will be used to fuse the crisp packets together.