City and Design Indaba hand over Shelter bags to the homeless


The City of Cape Town received a much-needed donation of 200 Shelter bags from Design Indaba. These bags were handed over by the City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre and Mayoral Committee Member for Community Service and Health, Councillor Zahid Badroodien, to homeless people at the City’s Safe Space at Culemborg on Saturday, 16 May 2020. Custom made for the South African climate, it provides protection against the harsh winter elements.

The Shelter bag, designed by Bas Timmer, was launched earlier this year at Design Indaba’s jubilee anniversary.  Design Indaba’s Do Tank consists of projects and initiatives designed for the greater good and funded the production of the first 200 bags. These were produced by women at a production facility at the Ark, a Cape Town-based Non-Governmental Organisation and homeless shelter.

The Shelter Bag is a sleeping bag at night, protecting the user from the elements and doubles up as a carrier bag during the day, allowing an individual to store and transport personal belongings.

‘It’s heartwarming to see innovation and willingness to assist our homeless people during these challenging times. As we have said before, it’s not illegal to be homeless and the City will always be willing to work closely with community organisations in our campaign to better the lives of homeless people. The Safe Space has assisted many people since its inception in 2018 and we welcome initiatives that assist us in making the lives of homeless people a lit bit easier,’ said the Mayoral Committee Member for Community Service and Health, Councillor Zahid Badroodien.

According to the designer, the Shelter bag is  a lightweight, waterproof sleeping bag with a hood and ventilation, rolls up into a yoga mat-like carrier bag during the day and has a built-in pillow, a waterproof mattress and space for extra padding on the bottom. A bonus is the zippered pocket that can be used for storing personal possessions such as an ID book and other items.

‘The City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre, who facilitated the handover, is testament to how city departments build relationships with organisations, work together as a team and take responsibility in assisting our vulnerable groups. Officials have been working closely with a lot of community organisations to address the many challenges we face in the City –  we will continue to assist those in need,’ said the Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

The unveiling of the bag has solicited a lot of interest from sponsors and individuals, resulting in the funding of additional Shelter bags. Design Indaba has started production of an additional 1 500 Shelter bags that will be donated directly to shelter operators with the assistance of the City of Cape Town.

‘We are hoping that the recipients will make good use of the shelter bags and that Design Indaba together with interested parties will be able to increase the production of these bags so that more homeless people can benefit. I would like to thank our Disaster Risk Management Centre as well as the City’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department for facilitating the handover,’ said Councillor Badroodien.

Issued by: Media Office, City of Cape Town

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