Emily Duffy, a first year commerce student in UCC and successful social entrepreneur, hopes to employ the homeless population of Cork to make her creation, the Duffily Bag: a metallic bubble wrap specially designed for those sleeping rough.
The Limerick-born 18 year old already has a similar project up and running successfully in Dublin, which she hopes to replicate here in Cork now that she is studying in UCC. The Duffily Bag is lightweight, waterproof, heat-retaining, and non-flammable. It is manufactured so that the pillow also functions as a compartment where valuables can be stored, and has additional layers on the bottom to provide extra back support. Duffy hopes to partner with a homeless charity in Cork to set up a similar workshop to her Dublin operation, “where homeless people can help themselves and each other through making the Duffily Bags.”
Duffy is a recipient of the UCC Quercus Active Citizenship scholarship. She believes the award has allowed her to further develop her social entrepreneurship and projects with the homeless through surrounding herself with other like-minded students trying to make an impact on the world around them. Duffy told the Express, “that kind of environment is motivational and addictive. It has helped me push myself to do more and continue with my project. It has also provided me with a stage where I can showcase my project, such as when I got to meet UCC President Patrick O’Shea.” O’Shea recently met with Duffy to hear more about her invention, and bought a Duffily Bag in support of her venture.
At just 14, Duffy invented the ‘homeless wrap’. She credits her invention “to [her] realisation of how serious homelessness was in Ireland, and how blind we were towards it. I knew when reading the statistics that I wanted to do something about it, so I decided to base my 2015 BT Young Scientist entry on homelessness and more specifically, sleeping rough on the streets.”
A Dublin-based homeless charity in Ireland, the Mendicity Institute, heard about Duffy’s vision in 2015 and partnered with her in order to provide the Duffily Bag to hundreds of Dublin’s homeless population, all the while employing 20 of its product’s users to make the bags.
Duffy strongly believes there is a huge need for her product in Cork. She continued, “[t]he homeless crisis in Ireland has got significantly worse since I started my project in 2014. While it may seem backwards, I will continue my work in the hope of making my own product irrelevant.”
Emily’s venture can be supported at duffily.myshopify.com, by directly sponsoring a bag or making a donation.