Swags for Homeless Wins Human Rights Award

Flattr this!

As long-term read­ers of this blog will remem­ber, I chose Swags for Home­less as the char­i­ty to sup­port in my Walk to Kosciuszko in 2010. I was struck by the sheer prac­ti­cal­i­ty and inge­nu­ity of this char­i­ty. There are many groups try­ing to do some­thing for home­less peo­ple, but some initiatives–like home­less shel­ters, or pro­mot­ing social housing–take a long time to imple­ment and sim­ply can’t cater for the inflow of new home­less.

Swags got there in one step, with an inex­pen­sive, well-designed portable bed that gives a home­less per­son a good sleep, today, even though they are sleep­ing rough.

If you’re think­ing of help­ing out a char­i­ty as part of your Xmas/New Year activ­i­ties this year, then please con­sid­er help­ing the very prac­ti­cal and entre­pre­neur­ial work of Swags for Home­less.

I was delight­ed to hear last week that the founders of Swags for Home­less, Tony and Lisa Clark, were select­ed as the win­ners of the Aus­tralian Human Rights Com­mis­sionCom­mu­ni­ty Organ­i­sa­tion award. Below is the press release from Swags about the award.

Mr Clark, who found­ed Swags for Home­less in 2007, start­ed the non-prof­it home­less char­i­ty in Mel­bourne when he ques­tioned what was giv­en to street sleep­ing home­less turned away from shel­ters. Tony and Lisa Clark designed the emer­gency relief Back­pack Bed, which also received the worlds largest and most pres­ti­gious prod­uct design award the Red Dot ‘Best of the Best’ in Ger­many this year.

Back­pack Beds are pro­vid­ed to street sleep­ing home­less turned away from shel­ters — and are dis­trib­uted through 139 char­i­ties around Aus­tralia.

It’s extreme­ly grat­i­fy­ing to receive this pres­ti­gious Human Rights award, how­ev­er the real acknowl­edg­ment we need is from the gov­ern­ment in terms of fund­ing. It is against the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Human Rights Char­ter for the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment to ignore home­less turned away from shel­ters emp­ty hand­ed. They need to lis­ten to the almost 200 char­i­ties scream­ing about the suc­cess of the Back­pack Bed pro­gram.” said Mr Clark.

Paul Moulds AM (Major) from The Sal­va­tion Army says the Back­pack Bed has been invalu­able to their organ­i­sa­tion and used in many of their out­reach pro­grams for the home­less.

It’s a grim real­i­ty that many peo­ple cur­rent­ly do not have access to safe or afford­able hous­ing and are liv­ing on the streets,” said Major Moulds.

Across 139 char­i­ties approx. 3000 Back­pack Beds were dis­trib­uted in 2011 which Mr Clark says falls well short of the required 21,000 year­ly need­ed to assist home­less across Aus­tralia.

As well as warmth and pro­tec­tion, the Back­pack Bed pro­vides the home­less with dig­ni­ty,” added Mr Clark.

A stag­ger­ing 16,375 men, women and chil­dren will be sleep­ing on streets across Aus­tralia with 2,204 of those in Vic­to­ria alone (ABS fig­ures 2006).

We had to turn away 39 organ­i­sa­tions this year plead­ing for our study proven Back­pack Beds due to the lack of fund­ing, it’s heart­break­ing.”

Mr Clark says $2.1 mil­lion in fund­ing would cov­er the costs to pro­duce enough Back­pack Beds to assist the street sleep­ing home­less across Aus­tralia, which includes $284,000 to cov­er Vic­to­ria.

This year the Back­pack Bed also received an Aus­tralian Inter­na­tion­al Design Award and the Syd­ney Pow­er­house Muse­um Design Award for inno­va­tion and ben­e­fits to its users.

From April 2012, the Clark’s Back­pack Bed will be avail­able from 90 retail stores with all pro­ceeds going to sup­port the con­tin­ued work of Swags for Home­less.

About Swags for Homeless

Swags for Home­less is a nation­al char­i­ty with tax deductible sta­tus based in Knox­field, Mel­bourne.

Swags for Home­less pro­vides free Back­pack Beds™ (swags) as an inter­im cri­sis mea­sure to street sleep­ing home­less around Aus­tralia. The Back­pack Bed is study proven as high­ly effec­tive for home­less turned away from shel­ters — improv­ing health, self esteem and most impor­tant­ly dig­ni­ty.

Tony Clark (founder of Swags for Home­less) and his wife Lisa invent­ed the world first Back­pack Bed™ to save the lives of home­less. The Back­pack Bed is a Back­pack and Bed in one — an out­door all weath­er pro­tec­tion sleep­ing unit.

The suc­cess of the Back­pack Bed pro­gram now has char­i­ties around the world request­ing Back­pack Beds — includ­ing, Ger­many, Poland, USA and the UK.
Tes­ta­ment to qual­i­ty, the Back­pack Bed™ resides in 2 inter­na­tion­al muse­ums — includ­ing the worlds largest con­tem­po­rary design muse­um in Essen, Ger­many and the Pow­er­House Muse­um in Syd­ney, Aus­tralia.

Bookmark the permalink.

About Steve Keen

I am Professor of Economics and Head of Economics, History and Politics at Kingston University London, and a long time critic of conventional economic thought. As well as attacking mainstream thought in Debunking Economics, I am also developing an alternative dynamic approach to economic modelling. The key issue I am tackling here is the prospect for a debt-deflation on the back of the enormous private debts accumulated globally, and our very low rate of inflation.