"My dream is to protect everybody that is forced to sleep outside," says Bas Timmer, a fashion designer from the Netherlands. Five years ago Timmer launched Sheltersuit Foundation after the father of two friends died on the streets of the Netherlands due to hypothermia.
"I felt obligated to create something that can prevent this from happening," says Timmer.
"Clothing is protection," he continues. "I went to my studio, took an old tent from the basement and an old sleeping bag and I created a waterproof jacket with a zipper on the bottom where you can attach a sleeping bag. The waterproof suit protects you day and night."
That's how it all started.
From there, Bas Timmer created a factory to produce the protective gear, a factory that employs people that seek refuge in Europe.
In the last five years, Sheltersuit Foundation, with a staff of 100, has given away almost 10,000 suits, all made by leftover materials from the textile industry and made "by people that have a distance to the labor market," says Timmer.
Sheltersuit Foundation is creating a network of distributors, including shelters and churches, that want to hand out the suit. Timmer believes handing over shelter food is step one. The suit, step two. "The next step is to get people off the street."
"I think it's not fair that we've got this huge, huge economy and we're not thinking about the people that are living on the streets."
"When I gave away the first Sheltersuit, I immediately realized this is so much better than selling clothes," Baz Timmer says. "There's no way back for me. I want to create good products that protect people."
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