Swags for Homeless up for award

Swags for Homeless operations manager and co-founder Lisa Clark models the organisation's portable bed, which is helping to give Australia's homeless people a warm, dry place to sleep at night. Photo by Chris McCormack
Swags for Homeless operations manager and co-founder Lisa Clark models the organisation's portable bed, which is helping to give Australia's homeless people a warm, dry place to sleep at night. Photo by Chris McCormack

CLEVELAND-based organisation Swags for Homeless has been named a finalist in the 2015 HESTA Community Sector Awards.

The not-for-profit organisation is one of five finalists in the awards' Organisation category for its innovative backpack bed designed specially to meet the sleep needs of homeless people.

The awards recognise those in the community sector who have made an exceptional contribution to social justice in Australia by enhancing the wellbeing of disadvantaged individuals and communities.

Since 2009, Swags for Homeless has distributed more than 15,000 of the organisation's lightweight, portable beds for homeless people across the country.

Swags for Homeless founder and CEO, Tony Clark, of Cleveland, said the organisation aimed to provide emergency relief to every homeless person without shelter at night.

"Sleeping outside, under cardboard, without suitable protection is cruel, inhumane and degrading," he said.

"Exposure to cold, wind and rain contributes to a higher incidence of physical and mental health issues for homeless people, often with severe health complications, which can lead to death."

Tony said the portable bed provided warmth, protection, comfort and dignity, but was never intended to replace housing for homeless people.

He said the organisation last year developed a new fabric that was water, fire and mildew resistant and 'breathable' while still meeting international safety standards.

"We're now developing a green portable power source enabling homeless people to charge their mobile phones," he said.

If Swags for Homeless is announced as the Organisation Award winner at the awards dinner in Sydney next Thursday, June 25, it will receive a $10,000 development grant.

For more information about Swags for Homeless, visit swags.org.au

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