Something in common

Sharing your human rights stories.


The backpack bed hits the streets

We took into account how we would like to be treated if we were in that situation.
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Lisa Clarke [Designer of the Backpack Bed with husband Tony]: “Tony and I met about 18 years ago when I was at university and so was he and we got married about nine years ago and a couple of years back, probably about five years ago, he started questioning what do they give homeless people sleeping on the streets and is it good enough and could it be better? So when we thought about designing the backpack bed we really took into account how would we like to be treated if we were in that situation and that was one really important factor for us, but as well as that we did of course discuss our ideas with a few homeless people. The backpack bed, it’s a lightweight backpack that rolls out to a bed, it’s all in one unit and it’s made out of fabric that’s waterproof and fire retardant and has storage pockets, a built in mattress on the inside with a silver insulation backing on the back of it just to stop that cold coming up from the ground. We’ve now just given away over three and a half thousand across Australia and we’ve really been limited by funding so we could certainly give out a lot more than that, the ABS stats say that on any given night there’s 16,375 men, women and children that are going to be without shelter. What I’ve learnt over the past few years is that anyone can help make a difference and probably a lot of us feel maybe, like we’d like to do something and maybe we’re not sure what it is or what it could be and if we did do something would it really make a difference? But I think that it’s something that I’ve really learnt that just consistently going and helping out in an area really does add up to making a difference and even if you only help one person imagine how much that can change their life.”

Creator of the 'backpack bed’ talks about designing for dignity and providing choice to people without shelter on Australia's streets.

Lisa and Tony Clark set up 'SWAGS for the Homeless' - an innovative bedding design to help improve the experience of Australians living on the street. After giving away more than 3 500 backpack beds across Australia, Lisa reminds all of us that making a difference for one person is a difference worth making.

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