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These Students Have Designed A 'Sleepcoat' For The Homeless - Who They're Training Up As Entrepreneurs

17/10/2014 15:40 BST | Updated 17/10/2014 15:59 BST

A group of students have designed a sleepcoat for homeless people - and want to train up Londoners sleeping rough as entrepreneurs.

Oli Slattery, president of the Enactus group at King's College London, came up with the idea after spending time with the homeless in Alaska.

enactus

The Enactus group

"He was staying at the same hostel I was, but was getting kicked out a few days later," he explained to HuffPost UK. "Without a permanent job, he brought me to the soup kitchen downtown for free lunch. It was probably one of the most emotional experiences I've been through, surrounded by people in ragged oversized coats, much less fortunate than myself.

"I knew I couldn't return to London and let this go - it's one of those adrenaline-charged moments where you tell yourself, 'I have to do something about this'."

So on his return, Slattery researched ideas to help Londoners in the same situation and came across The Empowerment Plan - a charity which employs previously homeless women to make sleeping bag coats for those who are currently without a home.

"Amazed, Tanya, our local director, and I set out to do the same in this huge city."

Why a product?

"Because it actually helps people. You know it'll make a lasting impact on their life because they can use it straight away. We didn't want to beat around the bush - we wanted it to help them the minute we gave it to them."

The Enactus group, a social enterprise society, received £424 from the King's College UnLtd award, meaning they can pay for training, machines and materials.

"We're really grateful for the award," Slattery adds. "So if you're reading this King's or UnLtd, a huge thank you!"

The prototype is currently being made and, once completed, will be handed out to all those sleeping run the group come across in shelters.

"We don't want to promote sleeping on the streets, but to offer an emergency service. To be able to do something like this is incredible.

"Homelessness is something we Londoners tend to ignore so easily because we see it everyday. That's what this is all about. Changing perceptions, that the homeless are perfectly capable human beings. Showing people they can not only help themselves, but help other homeless people too."