Sheltersuit sleeping bag – A warm coat in which homeless people can sleep.

Der Sheltersuit ist ein warme Jacke und Schlafsack zugleich. Copyright Sheltersuit Foundation

How it all started.

Bas Timmer, Gründer von Sheltersuit Foundation. Copyright Sheltersuit Foundation

Bas Timmer, the founder of Sheltersuit, was a graduate of the ROC van Twente fashion academy when a friend’s father sadly died homeless in the winter cold. Bas had been planning his own collection at the time, Paris Fashion was on the agenda – but he couldn’t let go of his friend’s death. It just didn’t feel right anymore. What reason could he have to charge hundreds of dollars for his high-end fashion when 30,000 people in Holland alone are homeless and face the same danger every winter as his friend’s father? He could no longer pursue his old plans. He wanted to use his talent to help the homeless so that the same thing wouldn’t happen to his friend’s father. Sheltersuit was born.

Bas had the idea of developing a kind of coat that you could wear during the day but also sleep in. Like a kind of sleeping bag. The sleeping bag was to be – and still is today – absolutely free. The sheltersuit is distributed to homeless people and refugees. Since 2014, over 6000 people have been helped on the streets. In the meantime, the idea has become a foundation.

The Sheltersuit Foundation is built on 3 pillars.

1. providing protection.

Sheltersuits’ mission is to ensure that no one, but no one, suffers from the cold. The quote from the website: “Every person deserves warmth, protection and dignity. That’s why we design and manufacture multifunctional products that provide immediate shelter to people experiencing homelessness. This is not a substitute for finding a home, but a supplement when there is no alternative to sleeping rough.”

2. providing jobs and opportunities.

Many homeless people are far removed from the labour market. But so are others, refugees, people with disabilities or mental difficulties. To give them a perspective again, Sheltersuit Foundation only hires people who have no chance elsewhere. Nobody needs to have any qualifications – but another beautiful belief in people’s abilities – they are trained.

3. recycle or upcycle fabrics.

And last but not least, the Sheltersuit Foundation also wants to be ecological and uses a lot of (cleaned) waste or remnants from productions that may have small defects. One of the main sponsors is TenCate Outdoor Fabrics, who produce tents and regularly donate fabrics that have small defects and cannot be used for sale, but are still perfect for the Sheltersuit. Another source of material donations are sleeping bag donations or other fabrics. At every music festival, people leave behind countless sleeping bags. These are then collected and cleaned by Sheltersuit. You can also donate your sleeping bag – to save costs, please clean the sleeping bag beforehand. Perhaps you can also organise a collection campaign on site and send a huge parcel to Sheltersuit. New fabrics are always needed. You can get information here: Stichting Sheltersuit, Rigtersbleek-Zandvoort 10-9, 7521 BE Enschede, The Netherlands

What exactly is a Sheltersuit or a Shelterbag – or what does it look like?

The foundation is called Sheltersuit, but there are 2 products. One is the Sheltersuit (a kind of coat that you can sleep in) and the other is the Shelterbag – a kind of mini tent.

The Sheltersuit.

The Sheltersuit is a wind and waterproof jacket with an optional sleeping bag attachment to provide immediate protection. The Sheltersuit consists of a jacket, a sleeping bag and a duffle bag. The jacket is made of high-quality, breathable tent fabric. The inner lining is made from upcycled sleeping bags and makes each sheltersuit unique. The large hood protects the face from rain and the light of street lamps and includes an integrated scarf. The sheltersuit is designed to be worn in cold climates [paragraph from website]

The Shelterbag.

The Shelterbag is a portable, protected bed that can be rolled up into a bag. It is waterproof, lightweight, easy to handle and has an extra compartment for some personal items. It comes with a built-in mattress and pillow, but also has room for an extra sleeping bag or blanket, making it suitable for all seasons. A flexible tent pole is integrated into the canopy to keep it upright and provide more space and better protection from the rain.[Paragraph from website] To give the person sleeping in the bag a little more comfort, a pillow and mattress are integrated. If necessary, an additional sleeping bag can be placed in the shelter bag. For safety, there is an extra place where belongings can be hidden – when people have to move from place to place, a safe storage place is of utmost importance.

Here a Sheltersuit employee shows how a Shelterbag is set up. The couple who watched this performance texted the next day that they had slept wonderfully.

On the Sheltersuit Foundation website, you can read some of these personal accounts from people who have often ended up on the street due to a stroke of fate. From people who have been given a Shelterbag or a Sheltersuit. These are such heartbreaking stories. It’s sad that so many people have to suffer in this world. You can find the link to the stories here: https://sheltersuit.com/de/unsheltered-moments/

I don’t have much money, but I will transfer 10 euros or so next month. If the stories have touched you too, you can find all the information about donating here. It can easily be ordered with credit card or Paypal. https://sheltersuit.com/de/mitmachen/spende/

I don’t want to persuade anyone, but please see if you can help with a few euros. I know many projects, this project is so important. Not that others are less important, but everyone deserves warmth and protection. As Bas once said, he would be more than happy if Sheltersuits Foundation could close its doors – it’s not about running a foundation, it’s about helping people. It is perhaps not without reason that he received the Times Magazine Award “Next Generation Leader” in 2020.

Talking about money: And that would also be the most important aspect of Sheltersuit Foundation. No moss, no gain. Bas Timmer needs donations to be able to give the shelterbags or sheltersuits to the homeless. Companies and organisations such as the Rabobank Foundation, Start Foundation and Stichting DOEN are now also among the supporters, along with many other large and small companies and organisations. It’s not just about supporting Sheltersuit, but also about ensuring that it can continue to grow and reach and help more and more people. Millions of people around the world are without a home – whether in war zones, due to weather disasters, poverty, mental illness or unexpected job loss.

There is still a lot to do.

The vision is to start a global movement – Sheltersuit will support the movement with expertise and experience. And if I understand correctly, a kind of open source franchise will be created where people worldwide can make the sheltersuits or shelterbags. I have already read about many great projects, whether it’s the Releaf start-up or most recently the Sollso wheel – every social impact business changes the world, sometimes smaller, sometimes bigger. For me, Bas Timmer rightly received the “Next Generation Leader Award in 2020” – and I personally wish him all the best for him and his team and Sheltersuit, that all his altruistic goals come true and that we may soon at least no longer have people freezing on the streets.

Perhaps you still have a few questions? There is also a FAQ page on the website where there are lots of questions and answers on how you can help or support. Please read it before sending an email, it will save Sheltersuit money. https://sheltersuit.com/de/haeufig-gestellte-fragen/

What do you think about the project? Do you also want to help? Or support it in some way? Do you still have an old sleeping bag that could perhaps be put to good use at Sheltersuit?

More links and information in the references.

Do you also have a project or business that you would like to have “printed” here? No matter how big or small – write an email: https://guteideenblog.org/2024/01/21/gastbeitrag/

  1. Business Punk. (2020) Designer develops sheltersuit for the homeless. Available at: https://www.business-punk.com/2020/12/designer-entwickelt-shelter-suit-fuer-obdachlose/ (Accessed: 21 January 2024).
  2. Sheltersuit on LinkedIn. (No publication year given) Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/company/sheltersuit/ (Accessed: 21 January 2024).
  3. sheltersuit. (No publication year given) Available at: https://sheltersuit.com/de/ (Accessed: 21 January 2024).
  4. YouTube. (No year of publication given) Video: Sheltersuit Foundation. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxCDFbjU134 (Accessed: 21 January 2024).
  5. ISPO.com. (No publication year given) Sheltersuit: How an outdoor designer helps the homeless. Available at: https://www.ispo.com/maerkte/sheltersuit-wie-ein-outdoor-designer-obdachlosen-hilft (Accessed: 21 January 2024).
  6. Sheltersuit Foundation on Instagram. (No publication year given) Available at: https://www.instagram.com/sheltersuit.foundation/ (Accessed: 21 January 2024).
  7. Brightvibes. (No publication year given) Sheltersuit: The Genius Wearable Homeless Shelter Solution to Help Protect the Most Vulnerable. Available at: https://www.brightvibes.com/sheltersuit-the-genius-wearable-homeless-shelter-solution-to-help-protect-the-most-vulnerable/ (Accessed: 21 January 2024).
  8. Designboom. (2020) Bas Timmer designs Sheltersuit – Wearable shelter for the homeless. Available at: https://www.designboom.com/design/bas-timmer-sheltersuit-portable-shelter-homeless-02-20-2020/ (accessed: 21 January 2024)

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