5. Oktober 2023

Cooperation between Sheltersuit, various local social aid organisations and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield: support for homeless people in a total of 12 cities in Germany and Austria

Your own roof over your head – that stands for warmth, protection and security. According to the Federal Government’s current report on homelessness, 263,000 people in Germany alone are currently denied this feeling. Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) is specifically advocating for those affected and wants to grant them at least a little more security – in the form of a special multifunctional garment.

Together with the Dutch Sheltersuit Foundation and local aid organisations, the company is once again launching a relief campaign for homeless people in need in eleven German cities and in Vienna. Starting on October 10, 2023, Homelessness Day, Sheltersuits will be distributed to people in need. This protective suit is a windproof, waterproof and warming garment with a hood that can be converted into a sleeping bag and can make life in homelessness more bearable, especially in the cold season that is now approaching. In addition, URW is launching a comprehensive online and offline information offer in 21 participating shopping centres to educate and raise awareness about the issue, support the initiative via the respective social media channels and call for further donations. URW itself is donating the first 100 Sheltersuits at the start of this year’s initiative. Local aid organisations are assisting with coordination and organisation on the ground. The campaign is now taking place for the third year in a row. The big goal: a total donation of 110,000 euros.

When temperatures drop below freezing in the winter months, people without a permanent residence and living on the street quickly find themselves in mortal danger. They are at risk of severe frostbite and, in the worst case, death from cold. In order to make warmth, protection and dignity accessible to everyone, Dutch fashion designer Bas Timmer has designed the Sheltersuit. The production follows the ecological idea of a careful use of resources. The Sheltersuits are made of upcycled materials, such as donated sleeping bags or blankets. The outside is made of high-quality, breathable tent fabric and offers optimal protection from wind and rain with a hood and integrated scarf. The inner lining made from recycled sleeping bags provides warmth and alleviates cold symptoms for those in need.

Milestones achieved: 70,000 euros in donations, 1,215 kilos of recycling of old fabrics and materials and 1,326 hours of integration work
The core of the joint initiative with URW is the distribution of the Sheltersuits to those in need locally. URW hands over the donated sheltersuits to local aid organisations, including Caritas in various cities, which distribute the suits to those most in need. The impact of the initiative is to be further strengthened through appeals for donations to customers as well as business and rental partners. The first rental partners have already joined the initiative. The initiative is accompanied by four weeks of information offers in the centres and awareness-raising via social media channels.
Since the start of the initiative in 2021, URW, rental partners and customers have already collected around 70,000 euros together – and have thus been able to help several hundred people in need. In addition, 1,215 kilograms of old materials were recycled and 1,326 hours of work were paid for in the Sheltersuit Foundation’s social workshop.

Paul Douay, Director of Operations Austria & Germany and responsible for sustainability at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, says: “Helping the homeless, sustainability and integration go hand in hand here like in hardly any other project. For us at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, community orientation and social engagement are integral parts of our corporate strategy and core to our ‘Better Places’ agenda. Therefore, it is a matter of course for us to take responsibility and make a contribution to the local communities with the help of our centres”.

Sheltersuits: Produced for integration
One piece of the protective suit has a value of 300 euros, which includes not only the material and manufacturing costs, but also the wages of the employees of the social workshop in Enschede, the Netherlands. The team also includes people seeking protection, including women and men who have fled to Europe from crisis regions around the world and receive language courses as well as paid employment at Sheltersuit. Since 2014, more than 25,000 Sheltersuits have been produced and distributed worldwide.

Bart Nijsink, campaign manager at Sheltersuit, says: “It is great to see companies taking social responsibility. Through meaningful cooperation and partnerships, we can bridge the gap between homeless people and organisations that are willing to help them. A Sheltersuit builds trust so that a person in need feels they are not forgotten. With the help of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, tenants and visitors, we will be able to positively impact the lives of people experiencing homelessness.”

Local expertise: concrete help and background information directly on site
Thanks to their years of experience and their network, the relief organisations involved know the local conditions and know exactly where help is needed and what measures need to be taken. Even if the overarching goal is always to find permanent shelter for the people, it is an important first step to help directly – with warmth and dignity. That is the unifying aspiration of all involved.

From October 10, 2023, 21 centres from URW’s management portfolio in Germany and Austria will also participate in the campaign. In the Stuttgart area (Breuningerland Sindelfingen and Breuningerland Ludwigsburg), in Munich (Pasing Arcaden and Riem Arcaden), in Berlin (Spandau Arcaden, WILMA, Schönhauser Allee Arcaden, Forum Steglitz, Neukölln Arcaden, Gropius Passagen) and in Gera (Gera Arcaden). In Leipzig (Höfe am Brühl and Paunsdorf Center), in North Rhine-Westphalia (Ruhr Park in Bochum, Minto in Mönchengladbach, Palais Vest in Recklinghausen, Düsseldorf Arcaden, Köln Arcaden and Westfield Centro in Oberhausen) and in Vienna (Westfield Donau Zentrum and Westfield Shopping City Süd), information is provided to inform and raise awareness about the topic and further donations are collected directly from visitors.

Better Places: Sustainability strategically anchored at URW
URW is committed to an ambitious sustainability strategy to address the biggest challenges facing the real estate industry. The strategy contains three pillars: “Better Spaces”, “Better Communities” and “Better Together”. The first pillar includes aspects of ecological sustainability, such as resource-saving construction and operation of properties, measures on the way to emission-free business or the promotion of modern mobility. The second pillar focuses on the company’s assumption of social responsibility and, in particular, the promotion of local communities at the various locations. The cooperation with Sheltersuit is also located in this context. The third pillar contains guidelines on how each individual URW employee can get involved in the company’s sustainability efforts and how business partners can be encouraged to actively participate in order to fulfil the ambitious tasks of the agenda. The overall commitment to Better Places is regularly reviewed on the basis of defined indicators and progress reports.

More information about the cooperation: https://sheltersuit.com/de/projects/unibail-rodamco-westfield/