Protecting lives and helping acutely – Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier is part of the cooperation between Sheltersuit and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield to support homeless people

Protecting lives and helping acutely – Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier is part of the cooperation between Sheltersuit and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield to support homeless people 1957 1500 Südliches Überseequartier

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) Germany, operator of flagship destinations and also project developer of Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier, together with the Sheltersuit Foundation and local aid organisations in 15 German cities, is launching an initiative to provide immediate and short-term support for homeless people: since mid-November, an initial 100 protective suits have been distributed to homeless people in need throughout Germany, 20 of them in Hamburg alone. The sustainably produced Sheltersuit is a multifunctional, windproof, waterproof and warming garment that can be converted into a sleeping bag and can alleviate the acute hardships of homelessness, especially in the cold seasons.

In addition, URW is launching a comprehensive information program in the participating assets – including Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier – to educate and raise awareness about the issue, support the initiative via the respective social media channels and call for donations to be multiplied. In Hamburg, an information stand will also be providing information at the Christmas market in the northern Überseequartier from November 25. URW itself is donating at least the first 100 Sheltersuits to kick off the initiative and distributing them in the various cities. Local aid organisations are assisting with coordination and organisation. In Hamburg, Krankenstube für Obdachlose of Caritas Hamburg and CaFée mit Herz are on board, among others.

According to Diakonie Hamburg, an increasing number of people in Hamburg are homeless. There are no current estimates of the number of homeless people throughout Germany ­– but the latest figures from 2018 are alarming. When temperatures drop below freezing in the winter months, people without a fixed abode on the street quickly find themselves in mortal danger. They are at risk of severe frostbite and, in the worst case, death from cold. Thus the homeless magazine Hinz&Kunzt counted last winter up to 13 February 2021 twelve outside deceased homeless persons in Hamburg. To make warmth, shelter and dignity accessible to everyone, Dutch fashion designer Bas Timmer created the Sheltersuit. 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.

Sheltersuits Lieferung

Germany-wide support initiative

In the first phase from November to December, eleven other assets from URW’s management portfolio are participating in addition to the new construction project Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier throughout 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 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 are donated to local aid organisations, which distribute the suits to those most in need. In Hamburg, for example, Krankenstube für Obdachlose of Caritas Hamburg and CaFée mit Herz are involved. The 20 suits were distributed to the participating aid organisations on November 19. The initiative’s impact is to be further strengthened by appeals for donations to customers, the neighborhood and business, cooperation and rental partners. The first tenants have already joined the initiative. Accompanying this, there will be a week of information offers in the centres or, in the case of Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier, at the Christmas market in northern Überseequartier, 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.

Statements on cooperation

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.

“At Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, we see concepts such as taking responsibility and commitment not just as empty words, but as an integral part of our business approach and lived corporate strategy, which we have set out in the ‘Better Places’ agenda. We are pleased to be able to make a further important contribution to local communities at our assets through our cooperation with Sheltersuit and social aid organisations – including here in Hamburg,” says Dirk Hünerbein, Director of Development Austria and Germany at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.

Obdachloser Mann im Sheltersuit

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 assets. The cooperation with Sheltersuit is also related to this. 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.

Better Communities – Social Responsibility of Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier

For URW, social responsibility is a central concern around Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier. Cooperation with local cultural institutions, projects with universities as well as social commitment – for example the renovation of the children’s farm Kirchdorf e.V. in the south of Hamburg – are in the foreground. Memberships and involvement of staff in Hamburg clubs and associations such as City Management Hamburg, Tourism Association, HafenCity network and Chamber of Commerce are another important element. Dialogue with HafenCity’s immediate neighbors is promoted through regular neighborhood events.

More information on the cooperation of Sheltersuit Foundation and URW: