How can I gift a bag?

The best way to gift your bags would be through our website here. You can donate either through credit card or EFT. We prefer if you do not donate cash when collecting a bag.

Can I hand out a bag that I gift myself?

Yes – that would be awesome! Street Sleeper is all about collaboration and it is great when people want to get involved. We feel that sharing the responsibility of distributing the bags goes a long way to building a sense of community and value. Once you have gifted a bag, you are welcome to come and pick it up here, between 09:00-17:00 Mon-Fri, and distribute it to anyone that you feel would benefit from it.

Do I need to distribute a bag that I gift myself?

Not at all. Your donation funds the making of a sleeping bag, which we will happily distribute on your behalf to someone who needs it.

Where are you based?

We’re based in Cape Town and our address can be found here. Our vision is to expand the Street Sleeper network to other cities around South Africa and to kick things off we’re setting up a pick-up facility in Johannesburg for winter 2017 that will avoid the delay and cost of couriering.

I'm not in Cape Town, how can I get a bag to distribute myself?

Street Sleeper is all about working with change makers in cities throughout South Africa. As we’re Cape Town based, the only way to get bags to you is by sending them through a courier. To try and keep our delivery costs as low as possible per bag, we ask that people donate at least 5 bags (at an estimated cost of R20/bag). Since this can be rather expensive for just one person, we encourage you to run a fundraising campaign in your community. We’ll send you the number of bags raised, which you can distribute in your neighbourhood with all those that participated in the campaign.

Do you have an overview document that we could use for our own campaign?

You can download an overview document here that give a detailed description on what we do.

When did you start and how many bags have already been gifted?

We started as a passion project in March 2014. We are in our third winter and have more than doubled the number of bags that we distributed in our first. The total number of bags gifted can be found on our website here.

What type of business are you?

Street Sleeper is a registered non-profit company. Reg: 2015/310497/08.

Do you have any pictures of the people who use the bags?

We love to tell the stories of people who we’ve met along our journey. Some of them can be seen below:

  • Cecil Mafeking – Refrigeration Technician & Street Sleeper User: I can’t wait for tonight, I can’t wait for it to come! I’m just so excited to try out my new bag. Yes man!!”
  • Paulus Mpofu – Street Sleeper User: “In my 70 years I have learnt that being angry never get’s you anywhere – that’s why I always try and have a smile on my face.”
  • Sam Langa – Ceiling Installer & Street Sleeper User: “Before, people would steal everything that I owned while I was asleep – but now I store my belongings in the bottom of this sleeping bag and they stay safe during the night”
  • Santa-Maria – Street Sleeper User:”I write down anything that comes to my mind in this book.”
  • Patrick Williams – Carpenter & Street Sleeper User: “I have been living on the streets for 4 years, but this is the coldest that I have ever seen Cape Town – this bag keeps me warm at night and it’s 100 times better than sleeping in the rain”
  • Nasif Daniels – Qualified Painter & Street Sleeper User: “I like my bag a lot, but you need to improve the design. People aren’t going to sleep with their head inside the top part. Here on the street you have to always be able to quickly see what is going on around you – it’s not safe otherwise”

 

How have homeless people reacted to you giving them these bags?
We’re always wonderfully surprised by the reaction from those who receive the bags. Its never a case of just dropping off a Street Sleeper and hurrying away. Nine out of ten homeless people we engage with want to share their story, ask us questions and give us advice on how to improve. Its always an honest, interactive experience, and we tend to walk away with the sense that we’ve gained just as much (if not more) as we’ve given.
What are the biggest challenges you face?

Certainly our biggest challenges come from production. We cannot buy our raw materials so if there is a billboard shortage in Cape Town, we are stopped dead in our tracks. Thankfully the number of suppliers we rely on has grown over the years, so PVC supply is seldom interrupted. We’ve also faced challenges working with homeless people. Balancing Street Sleeper’s need to run efficiently with the setback of lateness or non-attendance can be challenging. There’s always a great deal of passion, which we love, but mainstream society live by a different set of rules to those on the street. Neither set is better than the other; its just a matter of finding a functional balance between the two

Where do you hope to see Street Sleeper in the future?
In five years we want Street Sleeper to be a sustainable, self-funded organisation with multiple production hubs throughout South Africa providing employment to the homeless and marginalised members of our society. We want to continue providing immediate shelter to anyone that benefits from having a durable survival sleeping bag. This might expand beyond the homeless to others in need, such as refugees and victims of natural disasters.
We’d also like to build our brand to be synonymous with forward thinking social awareness around homelessness, tackling stigmas and promoting a want to actively engage with those less fortunate then ourselves.
What else can we do to positively impact homeless people's lives?
I think the best lesson we’ve learnt along this journey is the importance of time. You don’t have to give out money at the traffic light, but you could roll down your window and chat to the person whose asking. Its amazing how the demeanour changes when you put in a little effort to simply acknowledge another person’s existence. The beauty is, its a two-way street. You’ll leave these small encounters feeling optimistic, instead of angry or frustrated at the state of the world. You don’t have to run a charity to change people’s lives. Just give a little time to those who need it. Every day if you can.
Any tips for approaching and engaging with a homeless person?

We think its important to remember that we’re all just people, and pretty much all the same, even though our lives might be radically different. Homeless people enjoy engagement just as much as the next person, so approach people on the street the same way you’d approach someone at any social gathering, with politeness, respect and plain old curiosity (in this case it won’t kill the cat!)

You don’t have to like every homeless person you meet. Just like you’d walk away from someone you don’t get along with under normal circumstances, you don’t have to spend endless time chatting to a homeless person whose company you don’t enjoy. Some personalities just don’t “click” and that’s okay. As long as the person you’re talking to doesn’t feel unfairly judged or socially inadequate.

Take your time with people. No one likes feeling rushed.

Enjoy it! The exchange goes both ways. Don’t think of yourself as a “giver” but rather as one person exchanging ideas, thoughts and stories with another person.

Physical contact like shaking hands, maybe even a hug, is an important part of socialising, so try sticking to these everyday rules of engagement if you can.