The Dutch organization Sheltersuit Foundation is employing refugees and former homeless people to construct windproof, water-repellent jackets that can be transformed into sleeping bags for the displaced. Sheltersuits are created in the Netherlands by recycling and upcycling donated materials and are designed to keep refugees and homeless people warm.
Founder and designer Bas Timmer says, in the video below, that his foundation produces all the jackets in a local ‘social factory’ and hands them out in large numbers to the homeless for free. The Sheltersuits – which won the Dutch Design Award last year – have the option to attach a sleeping bag that can be stored in a special backpack during the day.
The foundation employs Syrian refugees and other displaced people who face challenges with accessing employment. The foundation says “everyone is welcome” at the factory which encourages volunteers and employees to “break through social barriers” and achieve personal goals such as learning the Dutch language.
“Every human life counts and therefore everyone has the right to this little shelter if they need it,” says Sheltersuit, “Everyone deserves protection, dignity, and warmth at all times.” The Sheltersuit website writes that in the Netherlands alone, more than 30,000 people are forced onto the street. They list the most common causes of homelessness as poverty, psychological problems, sudden loss of work, natural disasters and wars.
According to the website, the foundation “developed the Sheltersuit as a short-term solution for a major problem. It does not solve the homeless and refugee problem, but it does prevent people from freezing to death on the street.”