Updated: Jan 5, 2019
In 2016 Army Art chose Orange Sky as the major recipient of our fundraising endeavours. Recently we were able to follow up with the expanding team to ask them about their successes and achievements over the last couple of years since our collaboration. We were proud to support Orange Sky and are thrilled to see this innovative social justice not for profit going from strength to strength, caring for their volunteers and staff in the same way they provide care and support to homeless Australians.
How did Orange Sky start? What’s the back story?
Orange Sky Australia is the world’s first free mobile laundry service for people experiencing homeless – an idea founded in a Brisbane garage by two 20-year-old mates. Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett installed a couple of washing machines and dryers in the back of their old van, visiting parks in Brisbane to wash and dry clothes for free. With an aim to improve hygiene standards and restore dignity to people doing it tough, they stumbled on something much bigger and more significant – the power of a conversation. Now facilitated by more than 1000 volunteers, Orange Sky has expanded to 20 services across Australia and generates over six tonnes of laundry every week. Most importantly, Orange Sky volunteers have engaged in more than 100,000 hours of conversations to date, helping to dispel myths about homelessness and positively connect communities all around Australia.
Describe the mission and values of Orange Sky for anyone who may not know what you do.
Orange Sky Australia’s mission is to positively connect communities. We focus on people experiencing homelessness, defined as the absence of safe, healthy and permanent accommodation. Our aim is to connect with people living in poverty, people adversely impacted by natural disaster and those fleeing unsafe environments through genuine and non-judgmental conversations. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 census data, 116,000 people are experiencing homelessness throughout Australia.
Describe how Orange Sky came to be an Army Art beneficiary.
Orange Sky applied for funding support to become a beneficiary to support the direct service costs for our Perth North mobile laundry van.
How has being an Army Art funding recipient benefited Orange Sky and the people it supports?
The funding received through Army Art was used to provide free laundry services to people experiencing homelessness in Perth North. We have been able to deliver 1,250 free washes to our friends on the street, alleviating their financial pressure to enable them to use their money for more necessitous items than laundromat costs.
How important are volunteers to Orange Sky, and what sorts of roles do they undertake?
Volunteers are the core of our organisation. We currently have more than 1,200 people who give their time each week to positively connect with our friends on shift. In addition to having General Volunteers, we also have volunteer management roles where people are required to give a little more of their time to help manage a van in a particular location. Each service has a Service Manager, Assistant Service Manager and Vehicle Manager. Our volunteers are so important to us, and without their incredible generosity, we could not run any of our 24 services across the country.
How do employees/volunteers in your organisation engage with self-care and mental wellness?
Orange Sky have health safety and risk processes that ensure appropriate follow-up and support is provided to volunteers and employees whilst on shift and in the office. We have also recently implemented a free and confidential telephone counselling service as part of our Volunteer and Employee Support Program (VESP). This service is available to all volunteers and employees in addition to our internal support processes.
You can find out more about Orange Sky including how to support them via their website or keep up to date by following their social media accounts twitter, insta and facebook.