Bas Timmer innovated a unique, temporary but highly efficient solution to homelessness. The Sheltersuit is a wind and waterproof jacket with an optional sleeping bag attachment to provide immediate shelter. It provides warmth, immediate shelter and a little dignity to the homeless while using upcycled materials and creating jobs for the people who were formerly refugees or homeless.
Homelessness is truly a wicked problem. Over 150 million people are experiencing homelessness worldwide. That number is growing by the minute. The unexpected loss of jobs, natural disasters and wars are the top causes of homelessness. On top of that, Coronavirus has increased their possibilities of becoming homeless. It has to be addressed by unconventional means because of its complexity. It requires a truly innovative idea. Fortunately, a young guy from Netherland has an innovative, affordable and portable solution.
Inspiration and Innovation
Bas Timmer graduated college with the degree of a cold weather-gear specialist and the dreams of designing his clothing brand. He was well on his way to doing so when he heard that one of his friend’s father succumbed to hypothermia after being homeless. The fact that he was designing expensive clothing for higher societies while people on the streets were dying due to lack of shelter and warm clothing made Timmer change gears. Determined, he racked his brains to design a few possible alternatives. And the result was astounding. He designed a waterproof, warm, portable, good quality sleeping coat that acts as both a parka and tent.
The Sheltersuit is a wind and waterproof jacket with an optional sleeping bag attachment to provide immediate shelter. It consists of a jacket, a sleeping bag and a duffel bag. It has an easily detachable sleeping bag making it easy to keep during the day. The jacket is made from high-quality, breathable tent fabric. Upcycled sleeping bags make the inner lining. Hence, each Sheltersuit is unique. The large hood shields the face from rain and streetlights and contains an integrated scarf. The Sheltersuit was originally designed for cold climates but now can also suit warmer climates.
Apart from Sheltersuits Timmer came up with another innovation of Shelterbags which is a portable, sheltered bed that rolls up into a bag. It is waterproof, lightweight, easy to handle and has an extra compartment for some personal items. It comes with a sleeping bag and a built-in pillow but also has room for an extra mattress or blanket, making it adaptable for all seasons. A flexible tent pole is integrated into the hood to keep it upright, providing more space and better shelter from the rain.
The Sheltersuit costs about $300 to make and the Shelterbag about $60-$70. Generous donations and active participation of NGOs have managed the production and distribution of both novelties over the years. The most intriguing part about their manufacturing. It is made by people who are former refugees or homeless.
Timmer has now spread this mission after six years of running it in the Netherlands. He is taking his initiative across the globe through his ShelterSuit Foundation. It has offices present in the US and South Africa. Till now he has distributed 12,500 to homeless people in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, the U.S. and to refugees in Greece. He has adapted his designs to local conditions, with less insulation in warmer areas. He has inserted Velcro closures at the foot of the sleeping bags. It gives wearers more freedom for their feet.
Recognition and Honours
American Weekly listed Bas Timmer in its biannual selection of rising stars. He recently became one of Time Magazine Next Generation Leaders of 2020. Time lauded him with the honour of being an advocate for the homeless.
Currently, Bas is running extensive fundraising campaigns online for his mission. 60% of the money raised goes into the production of Sheltersuits and Shelterbags. The team distributes these products to the homeless for free. 35% of the raised money goes into creating more jobs for people with a distance to the labour market. The foundation uses 5% of the campaign fund to raise awareness for the homelessness problem and to raise funding to continue this mission. Timmer understands that his idea is by no means a replacement for finding a home but a supplement when you have no other choice. However, till better options roll in, he wishes to continue this mission.
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