Clothing manufacturer to donate 1000 sleeping coats to homeless

Scottish outdoor clothing manufacturer The Ootsider is aiming to mark its third year in business by donating 1000 sleeping coats to the homeless.

The Livingston-based social enterprise celebrates its third year in business in 12 months’ time and founder John Keogh is determined to mark the occasion by hitting the milestone.

Since setting up the Community Interest Company in 2022 following a chance encounter with a homeless person in Glasgow, John, a retired head of engineering at Jabil Electronics, has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of those forced to sleep rough in the streets.

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His company hand-makes premium quality waterproof, windproof and fleece-lined changing robes, as well as equestrian coats, and reinvests all net profits from those sales to fund the production of the sleeping coats which are then distributed to vulnerable people sleeping rough.

Target: John Keogh.Target: John Keogh.
Target: John Keogh.

The garments are ethically produced in Scotland, in-house, using materials purchased from UK suppliers and since the Ootsider production line first burst into life, 250 of the specially designed coats have been given away to those most in need.

That total is set to quadruple in the coming year, with John saying: “The Ootsider is a Community Interest Company (CIC) dedicated to making a positive social impact through the provision of practical assistance for anyone whose life and wellbeing is at risk by sleeping in a place not designed to be habitable.

“We understand the challenges faced by those experiencing homelessness and sleeping rough, particularly when sleeping in adverse weather conditions, and have developed an innovative and unique sleeping coat designed specifically to meet the practical needs and enhance the well-being and dignity of rough sleepers.

“We will be three years in business next June and I want to mark that milestone by having donated 1000 of our sleeping coats to rough sleepers. There are thousands of folks rough sleeping across the UK, and with the current housing crisis, and economic climate, this number will only increase.

The sleeping coats will help rough sleepers.The sleeping coats will help rough sleepers.
The sleeping coats will help rough sleepers.

“The Ootsider Sleeping Coat has been designed for this very purpose - to keep rough sleepers warm and dry, two of our most basic human needs, in all weathers. It was designed with the help of rough sleepers, and the feedback from those I have spoken to personally who have used the coat said it is a fantastic product. Literally a life-saver.

“The sleeping coats are funded by reinvesting all net profits from the sale of the changing robes and equestrian coats, and from donations. 100% of the money we receive from donations goes directly to making and distributing the sleeping coats to rough sleepers throughout the UK.”

John, who was named Local Hero 2024 at the Midlothian and East Lothian Business Awards earlier this year for his work with the homeless community, added: “We aim to reduce vulnerability and risk by keeping people warm, dry and comfortable whilst they are living on the streets.

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“Our organisation has been established to offer direct practical support, protect the physical and mental health, safety, welfare, dignity and wellbeing of vulnerable, rough sleeping homeless or displaced people by donating new, high-quality, protective garments to those who need them.

All of The Ootsider's garments are hand-made and waterproof.All of The Ootsider's garments are hand-made and waterproof.
All of The Ootsider's garments are hand-made and waterproof.

“We are committed to changing lives for the better and to support and empower individuals to improve their own situation.

“The UN Office of the High Commissioner reported that displaced persons suffer significantly higher rates of mortality, remain at high risk of physical attack, sexual assault and abduction, and frequently are deprived of adequate shelter, food and health services.

“Displaced people are of course also disproportionately vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous individuals. If people can stay warm, dry and well, they are likely to be better able to care for themselves and to develop coping strategies. With support they may be able to leave rough sleeping altogether.”

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