Cooperation with Sheltersuit Foundation expanded: Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield continues to help homeless people at its sites
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) Germany is expanding its cooperation with Sheltersuit Foundation and local aid organizations, which was launched in the fall of 2021. As part of a support initiative starting on October 10, 2022, in nine shopping centers operated by URW, the aim is to draw attention to the particularly difficult situation of people living on the streets in winter and to offer immediate support. In addition to distributing 120 Sheltersuits, URW is again collecting donations to provide a Sheltersuit to additional people without a permanent residence. The multifunctional, windproof, waterproof and warming garment can be converted into a sleeping bag and thus helps homeless people especially in cold months of the year.
Since the start of the cooperation last year, 100 people have already been supported with Sheltersuits donated by URW and a total donation of around 42,500 euros has been achieved via customers, business and rental partners, URW employees and the company itself. In addition, 580 kg of discarded textiles were recycled and put to a new use in the production of the protective suits.
The core of the initiative this year is the distribution of 120 Sheltersuits to those in need locally. The sheltersuits will be donated to local aid organizations, including Diakonie Werk Oberhausen or WIR – Obdachlosenhilfe Mönchengladbach e.V., in various cities, which will distribute the suits to those most in need. The initiative’s impact is to be further strengthened by appeals for donations to customers and business and rental partners. The first rental partners have already joined the initiative. The initiative will be accompanied by a week of information activities in the centers at each location and awareness-raising via social media channels.
The initiative deliberately starts on International Homeless Day on October 10 to support its goal of showing people how to get involved locally in helping the homeless. It will first start at Westfield Centro in Oberhausen, Minto in Mönchengladbach and Palais Vest in Recklinghausen, and will continue one week later at Düsseldorf Arcaden, Köln Arcaden and Ruhr Park in Bochum, before concluding another week later at Leine-Center Laatzen in Hanover and both Leipzig centers: Höfe am Brühl and Paunsdorf Center. By the end of the initiative, URW will have provided a total of 220 Sheltersuits to people in need throughout Germany. At the same time, the initiative’s total fundraising target for 2021 and 2022 to provide additional protective suits to those in need through Sheltersuit Foundation is 60,000 euros – of which 42,500 euros have already been raised.
Sheltersuits: produced to provide warmth and promote integration
Dutch fashion designer Bas Timmer designed the Sheltersuit to make warmth, protection and dignity accessible to everyone. The production follows the ecological idea of a careful use of resources. Thus, 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. One copy of the protective suit is worth 300 euros. This 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 15,000 Sheltersuits have been produced and distributed worldwide.
Thanks to their many years of experience and their network, the aid organizations involved know the local conditions and know exactly where help is needed and what measures need to be taken. The covid pandemic has also made the situation more difficult and dangerous for people on the street without a permanent home. Even though the overarching goal is always to find permanent shelter for people, providing immediate help – with warmth and dignity – is an important first step. That is the unifying aspiration of all those involved in the cooperation.
Paul Douay, Director of Operations Austria & Germany and responsible for sustainability at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, says: “We are very pleased that after the successful first part of the cooperation launched in the fall of 2021, we can now actively participate again as a company in 2022. For us at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, community and social engagement is an integral part of our corporate strategy and a core part of our ‘Better Places 2030’ agenda. It is therefore a matter of course for us to take responsibility and make a contribution to local communities with the help of our sites. The cooperation with Sheltersuit and the local social aid organizations is an important example of this.”
Better Places: Sustainability strategically anchored at URW
URW is committed to an ambitious sustainability strategy to address the biggest challenges facing the commercial real estate industry. The strategy contains three pillars: “Better Spaces,” “Better Communities” and “Better Together. The first pillar covers aspects of environmental sustainability, such as the resource-efficient construction and operation of properties, measures to achieve emission-free business practices, and 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 sites. The cooperation with Sheltersuit is also to be found in this context. The third pillar, in turn, contains guidelines on how each individual URW employee can become involved in the company’s sustainability efforts and also how business partners can be encouraged to actively participate in order to fulfill the ambitious tasks of the agenda. The entire Better Places commitment 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/
Image: Tony Dočekal + Sheltersuit