26. Oktober 2021

Cooperation between Sheltersuit, various local social aid organisations and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield: support for homeless people in a total of 15 German cities

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) Germany, together with the Dutch Sheltersuit Foundation and local aid organisations, is launching a support initiative for homeless people in 15 German cities: Starting in the first week of November, an initial 100 Sheltersuit protective suits will be distributed to homeless people in need across Germany. The Sheltersuit is a multifunctional, windproof, waterproof and warming garment that converts into a sleeping bag and can ease the symptoms for people experiencing homelessness, especially in the cold seasons. In addition, URW is launching a comprehensive online and offline information offer in the participating shopping centres to educate and raise awareness around the topic, support the initiative via the respective social media channels and call for further donations. URW itself donates the first 100 sheltersuits at the beginning of the initiative and distributes them in the different cities. The local aid organisations support with coordination and organisation.

When temperatures drop below freezing in the winter months, people without a permanent home on the streets quickly find themselves in mortal danger. There is a risk of severe frostbite and, in the worst case, death from cold. In order to make warmth, protection and dignity accessible to all, the Dutch fashion designer Bas Timmer 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.

Germany-wide support initiative
In the first phase from November to December, 12 assets from URW’s management portfolio are participating across Germany – 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 addition, the new construction project Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier is part of the initiative. In the second phase at the beginning of 2022, further locations will follow in North Rhine-Westphalia (Westfield Centro in Oberhausen, Ruhr Park in Bochum, Minto in Mönchengladbach, Düsseldorf Arcaden, Köln Arcaden as well as Palais Vest in Recklinghausen), Frankfurt/Main (NordWestZentrum) and Leipzig (Höfe am Brühl, Paunsdorf Center).
The core of the initiative is the distribution of the Sheltersuits to the people in need on site. The Sheltersuits will be donated to local aid organisations, including Caritas in various cities, who will distribute the suits to those who need them the most. The initiative’s impact is to be further strengthened through appeals for donations to customers and business as well as rental partners. The first tenants have already joined the initiative. Accompanying this, there will be a week of information offers in the centres at each location as well as awareness-raising via the social media channels.

Sheltersuits: produced to promote integration
One piece of the protective suit has a value of 300 euros, which includes not only the material and production costs, but also the wages of the employees of the social workshop in Enschede, the Netherlands. The team also comprises people seeking protection, e.g. women and men who have fled to Europe from crisis regions around the world and who receive language courses as well as paid employment at Sheltersuit. Since 2014, more than 15,000 Sheltersuits have been produced and distributed worldwide.

Thanks to their years of experience and their network, the aid organisations involved know the local conditions and know exactly where help is needed and what measures have to be taken. The coronavirus pandemic has also made the situation more difficult and dangerous for people on the streets without a fixed abode. Important services such as warming stations or direct cold aid can sometimes not be taken advantage of. Even if the overarching goal is always to find permanent shelter for people, helping these people directly – with warmth and dignity – is an important first step. That is the unifying demand of all involved.

“It’s great to see corporate organisations take social responsibility. Homelessness and other seemingly insurmountable problems we see in the world today will only be solved through meaningful collaborations and partnerships. With the help of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and their tenants we will be able to make a positive impact on the lives of people experiencing homelessness,” says Paul Zurink, campaign manager at Sheltersuit.

“For us at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, charitable and social commitment is an integral part of our corporate strategy and core to our ‘Better Places 2030’ 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. The cooperation with Sheltersuit and the local social aid organisations is an important example of this, so we are very happy to be part of this project,” says Ivica Pavusek, Head of Center Operations Austria & Germany and responsible for sustainability at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.

Better Places: Sustainability strategically anchored at URW
URW has committed itself to an ambitious sustainability strategy with which the company wants to meet the greatest challenges of the commercial 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 the 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 on the cooperation: https://sheltersuit.com/de/projects/unibail-rodamco-westfield/