”Our efforts for social, environmental and technical improvement are rewarded in beautiful ways.” – Bas Timmer (founder of the Sheltersuit Foundation and designer of the Sheltersuit 4.0.)

We are honoured to announce that the latest version of our Sheltersuit for the homeless – The Sheltersuit 4.0, has been nominated for the finals of the Dutch Design Awards 2017. The jury of the awards decided to nominate Sheltersuit 4.0 as one of the five finalists in the category for products.  In this decision to nominate us, the jury took a look at some of the recent positive developments within the Sheltersuit Foundation.

Technical improvements in design of the Sheltersuit 4.0

The designer of the Sheltersuit, Bas Timmer, has been busy constantly, working on technical enhancements to improve the previous designs. The Sheltersuit 4.0 is a strong, durable, water- and windproof jacket, which can easily be transformed into a sleeping bag. The Sheltersuit is specifically designed to protect homeless people and those who are forced to sleep outdoors, against any type of weather condition.

The Sheltersuit 4.0 combines the comfort of a high quality sleeping bag (donated by Nomad), with different layers of advanced materials that provide protection against the weather. The high-tech fabric on the exterior of the Sheltersuit 4.0 is donated by TenCate Outdoor Fabrics and TenCate Protective Fabrics. The exterior gives the Sheltersuit its water- and wind proof properties, yet still allows the fabric to breathe. The inner lining is the warm Thinsulate, which is  donated by the company 3M.

Our unique social employee program 

At the Sheltersuit Foundation, we have created a unique social employee program, in which we only hire people with a disadvantage to the job-market. Amongst them is a group of refugees from Syria, who have fled the horrific civil war of their motherland.

Together with our local government, national organizations for refugees and schools, they now have a job to manufacture Sheltersuits, while we facilitate and guide them in taking courses in learning the Dutch language and helping them to integrate into Dutch society.

Success without profit objective

Without a profit objective, the Sheltersuit Foundation has been able to grow steadily, and successfully manufacture a large amount of Sheltersuits, which we have given away to the homeless.

Donations enable us to do what we do

Everything, from the Sheltersuits we produce, to the production machinery, our necessary materials and textiles, the housing and utilities of our foundation and manufacturing facility, even our coffee machine – the Sheltersuit Foundation is fully dependent on donations, gifts and the commitment of volunteers.

This generosity of individuals, organizations and companies has enabled the Sheltersuit Foundation to successfully produce and hand out in excess of 1200 Sheltersuits, to homeless people around the world, free of charge. And we are still expanding.

The least we can do 

Every day, more Sheltersuits are coming out of our production facility in Enschede (in the east of the Netherlands). Sadly enough, the number of homeless people is also rising, despite the fact that there are far more empty houses in Europe than the total amount of homeless people.

We feel that preventing people from freezing to death by providing the warmth and protection of the Sheltersuit is the least we can do. Yes, Sheltersuit gives comfort and protection to those unfortunate enough to live and sleep in the streets. But solving and preventing the enormous problem of homelessness, requires more than warmth and protection – it requires the awareness and help of all people, the effort of society as a whole.

Awareness is where positive change starts 

It is pivotal to raise awareness on the topic of homelessness. Only when people see the shocking homelessness statistics, will they start to understand the scope of the problem. Different people throughout governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations, groups and individuals can join forces to work together to find creative solutions to this problem.

A shining example for positive change 

The Sheltersuit Foundation is a shining example that a multilateral cooperation for positive change is possible. Our organization has brought together members of the public, refugees, activists, scholars, politicians and public representatives of both local and state government, representatives of non-governmental organizations, directors of large and small companies. Our unique project has made headlines in national and international media.

Our story shows that no problem is too big to overcome and that anything is possible – all we have to do, is join forces and go for it.

The winners of the Dutch Design Awards 2017 will be chosen by an independent jury and announced on 28 October at the ending of the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

(Written by: Gael Philip)