How do I continue connection and stay healthy during this time?

Natalie is the HR Officer at Orange Sky HQ. She loves home decorating, op-shopping and vintage inspired fashion, gazing longingly at shoes, being in or near the water and spending time with her family.


Each night, I snuggle up in bed with my seven-year-old and we talk about our day. Usually our talks are filled with tales of adventures of school ground mischief, occasional disagreements with our sibling and ping pong games.

However, since COVID-19 first hit Australian shores in January 2020, our world has slowly been shrinking. Our trips to beaches, playgrounds and to visit grandparents have dwindled down. In place of sleepovers, we have Facetime calls. Instead of playgrounds, we build cubby houses out of blankets. Instead of bike rides, we jump on the trampoline in our backyard.

So here we are after more than a month of isolation and I’m preparing myself for our usual nightly conversation. As the days have started to blur, I decided to not just to ‘summarise’ our days and what we liked the best, but rather to shift our conversation to what we are most thankful for. 

I thought I would share with you all what I am most grateful for at the moment.

More time

Since mid-March, Orange Sky has asked all employees who are able to work remotely to do so.  It might not be much, but skipping the commute has given me extra minutes every day; minutes I can spend on my own family, on myself or getting that final thing done for my Orange Sky family.

My husband and I, in that first week where we were both found ourselves at home but still sending the kids to school and daycare, got to have the first walk by ourselves in SEVEN YEARS! We walked every day that first week and actually got to have a conversation that was not interrupted by children saying “excuse me, excuse me, excuse me!”  Yes we spoke about the kids (a lot), but we also planned out future travels, our career paths, our hopes and also our fears. Even speaking about the scary, unknown times ahead made everything feel just that little bit better. As the old saying goes – a problem shared is a problem halved.  For that I am grateful.

My health

On March 26, I woke up with a sore throat. I was terrified. Could I seriously have contracted this virus so quickly?  We immediately pulled the kids out of school and daycare.

Never have we ALL been more aware of our breathing.  Even my husband, who is normally super calm, has said to me, “Every once and a while I will sit there and just ‘check’ that I can take a deep breath.”  Now, I am a bit of a hypochondriac at the best of times, but I am thankfully my slight cold-like symptoms resolved within 48 hours after resuming my hayfever tablets.

Our Home

Small business owners have resurrected their previously-failed fruit, vegetable and eggs delivery service, local butchers are delivering meat packs and cafes and restaurants have switched to takeaway. Even our local family-owned IGA is available to us within walking distance through a secluded shaded pathway, so for weeks we can get away without leaving our house and yet still have an abundance of high quality food… for this I am very thankful.

My Connections

Now, more than ever, I am also grateful for the connections in my life.

Grandparents who Facetime daily to read stories to my kids, my sister-in-law who bought us extra nappies when the shelves were literally being stripped bare, our neighbours – who we now catch up on our afternoon walks from across the street, and my personal trainer – who has shifted her bootcamps to online sessions five days a week (I’ve literally never been so sore in my life!). 

I am so thankful to have a strong network of people in my life who look out for me and give my life meaning.

But what about the people that don’t have these things?

All in all, this crisis has made me intensely aware of my privilege in having a safe place to hunker down, a roof over my head, good food, clean clothes and access clean, running water to wash my hands whenever I need to.

Our friends on the street who rely on Orange Sky’s services don’t have a lot of these things.

This pandemic marks the first time in the five years since Orange Sky was founded that our service was paused and we were unable to provide our friends with free laundry, warm showers and genuine conversation.

But thankfully not for long.

As we rejigged our safety procedures and found new ways to deliver our service whilst keeping everybody safe, we’re now more committed than ever to our mission to positively connect communities. 

The fact is though that I’m not on that front line delivering these services. Given that my own medical history and those of my children put us in the ‘high risk’ bucket, what – when trying to socially distance and halt the spread of COVID-19 – can I actually do?

I can help to #continueconnection by starting conversations with people in my community and spreading awareness about the work of Orange Sky.

I can also donate. As I sit here safe in my home, I can pledge to donate to Orange Sky’s efforts for as long as I have the ability to do so. Along with all the other things I am thankful for, I still have a job and an income and I can use this to help keep our vans running.

We are one community experiencing the impact of COVID-19 together – and we need your support to help us #continueconnection


COVID - 19 // OUTDATED

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect families, communities and countries around the world, Orange Sky has been monitoring how best to support the health, safety and well being of our friends, volunteers, supporters and staff.

Orange Sky has a strong and embedded health and safety culture, and we will do all we can to avoid risks that could negatively impact the people in our community. We are currently implementing a measured approach to support as many of our shifts to stay in operation as we can. We will notify of any changes to shifts as required and provide as frequent updates as possible through our channels.

Important information:

1. Orange Sky Headquarters closure:

As COVID-19 continues to challenge our communities, Orange Sky’s leadership team has made the decision to close high risk environments such as HQ for the next 14 days, requesting staff to work from home until Monday, 30 March. We will update our community if any of this information changes.


2. Orange Sky shift delivery:

Volunteers:

If you are a volunteer, we’d encourage you to work with your local teams to assess your shift situation and determine the level of risk for your attendance.

Service providers:

If you are a service provider, please communicate any changes to your service provision or environment that may have consequences for us partnering with you at your location by completing this form

Friends accessing our services:

If you are looking to access our services real time information will be available via our website as to whether services have been cancelled . You can find this at orangesky.org.au/locations


3. Recommended source of information:

For further, specific information on COVID-19 please visit the Australian Government Health website or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

A special shout out to our friends doing it tough, who might have limited access to services during this difficult time. Stay safe everyone, and please take care of yourselves and each other.

Many thanks,
Orange Sky Australia

Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN: 85890622990 • All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)


COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak means that Orange Sky is operating in a world where things are changing daily, but what remains the same is the commitment of our team to continue innovating and supporting our friends on the street. After recently pausing our shifts, we are excited to be back operating with increased health and safety measures. We currently have more than 100 active shifts run by over 572 volunteers who have completed 2,353 washes, 92 showers, 562 shifts with 4,313 hours of conversation since reestablishing service on 2nd April. To access the latest shifts information, please go here.
Our team are continuing to work hard to source new locations in all of areas. All volunteers now complete additional training modules to be able to volunteer safely and we continue to stay up to date and collaborate with state health departments, local councils, police and community partners. We have also introduced a new ‘volunteer wellness check’ to ensure our volunteers are feeling well on shift.
As we roll out more shifts we need more volunteers and are currently recruiting volunteers in the following areas: Darwin, SEVIC, Canberra, Newcastle, Townsville, Mackay, Port Mac, Wollongong, Geelong, Northern Rivers & Adelaide.
We will continue to provide information on our progress as it comes to hand. The complexity and risk that we are undertaking is huge, so want to make sure our community is kept up to date and can engage in conversation with the team.
There has never been a more important time to dig deep and utilise our ability to innovate and find ways to keep the most vulnerable people in our community connected over this time. This does not change our focus on ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of our friends, volunteers, fellow service providers and the general public.
It is amazing to see our remote services in Palm Island, Lockhart River and Maningrida continue to operate as normal. We will provide updates in these regions as they come to hand.
We will continue to be guided by the most up to date and reliable information from the Australian Government. We are on a massive journey of innovation and we are incredibly grateful for your support to help us deliver our mission and support our friends doing it tough.

To our Victorian Orange Sky community

Our thoughts go out to all the people in Victoria who are currently working through another high risk period of COVID-19 transmission. At this stage, Orange Sky is in a position to continue to operate our shifts across Melbourne, South East and Geelong with the approved COVID-19 safety controls in place. Please see further information below if you are a volunteer in a hotspot region.

 

Due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases in Victoria, the following suburban hotspots regions are under stay home directions from from 11:59PM 1st July 2020 : https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-covid-19-daily-update

 

Suburbs under stay-at-home orders:

3012: Brooklyn, Kingsville, Maidstone, Tottenham, West Footscray

3021: Albanvale, Kealba, Kings Park, St Albans

3032: Ascot Vale, Highpoint City, Maribyrnong, Travancore

3038: Keilor Downs, Keilor Lodge, Taylors Lakes, Watergardens

3042: Airport West, Keilor Park, Niddrie

3046: Glenroy, Hadfield, Oak Park

3047: Broadmeadows, Dallas, Jacana

3055: Brunswick South, Brunswick West, Moonee Vale, Moreland West

3060: Fawkner

3064: Craigieburn, Donnybrook, Mickleham, Roxburgh Park and Kalkallo

 

For the safety of our volunteers, friends, service providers and the community, if you are from one of these suburbs we are requesting that you do not participate in shifts during the lockdown period.

 

We are mindful that things may change at any time and we will update any changes here and across our social media channels. Orange Sky will make decisions on our operations for the safety of our volunteers and the community based on the best information at hand. We all need to be responsible and do our bit to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Contact Us

Australia wide volunteers

With the latest updates from health authorities due to COVID-19, Orange Sky has made the decision to suspend any face to face training sessions for new volunteers until further notice. More information on online training sessions will be provided as they roll out. We love welcoming new people into the Orange Sky family and we’ll need volunteer support more than ever when our shifts are back up and running at full capacity.

Please contact info@orangesky.org.au with any questions.

Friends accessing our services

To all of our wonderful friends who use our service, we are thinking of you at this extremely difficult time. We are excited to say that we are progressively rolling out shifts across Australia. To find out if there is a shift near you click the FIND A SHIFT button below to access our updated shift location page. We are working as fast as we can to roll out more shifts, hope to see you all back on our orange chairs really soon.

FIND A SHIFT

Service providers

If you are a service provider, please keep us updated with any changes to your service provision or environment that may have consequences for us partnering with you at your location in the future.

Click here to fill out the form

Ways to Support

Donate funds to help Orange Sky continue to deliver our mission and support our friends doing it tough.

Donate Now

Media

If you’d like more information, please click the link below to get in touch.

Contact

Socials

Follow our socials for up to date information on how Orange Sky is responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as some positive news stories about our community

Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN: 85890622990 • All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)


March 2020 Safety

Flu season can be a particularly hard time of the year for our friends. While we continue to offer free laundry, warm showers and great conversation out on shift, we wanted to take the opportunity to keep you informed with recommended preventions you can take to protect yourself this flu season.

These suggestions are useful to help limit the spread of germs found in the common cold, flu and widely publicised Covid-19 (Coronavirus) currently in the headlines. We don’t want to create alarm, rather we want to ensure that you – our volunteers – are kept informed and can make sensible decisions around your health this flu season.

While we intend for our services to continue operating, if you do feel sick please stay at home and inform your Team Leader. Resting up and consulting your GP is advised.


Tips to help limit the spread of germs

• Remember to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds prior to commencing work or volunteering, after sneezing and coughing, going to the bathroom, or after touching objects that may have been in contact with people exhibiting flu-like symptoms;

• Use hand sanitiser available on shift;

• Wear gloves while on shift and handling any washing or cleaning items.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick;

• If you feel sick, please stay at home, rest up and visit your GP;

• Know the signs of a flu – fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath; and
Be mindful of physical contact with people displaying flu-like symptoms – consider replacing handshakes with the Orange Sky approved fist bump!

• If you have been in, departed from, or transited through mainland China, Iran or South Korea in the last 14 days, you should:
Self isolate yourself from others for 14 days from the day you departed China, Iran or South Korea. Feel free to roster yourself back on shift at the conclusion of your 14-day self-isolation period; and
Monitor yourself for symptoms.


For further, specific information on Coronavirus, please read through the link from the Australian Government Health Department website. You can also contact 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for any other guidance as well. https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov

Stay safe this flu season, please do not panic, look out for yourselves and each other and if you have any questions, please contact your Service or Team Leader or Service Support on 0488851113 for guidance and advice.

Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN: 85890622990 • All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)


International Women's Day at Orange Sky

Our first ever staff member at Orange Sky was a web developer. We knew back then that technology would be key to helping us expand – and we couldn’t survive today without the programs our tech team has built.

This International Women’s Day (IWD), we are highlighting three super talented and diverse women who are writing their own #girlsintech narrative through their passion for helping others.

One of the missions of IWD is about celebrating women in tech and championing those who are ‘forging innovation through technology’.

Kaira, Bandita and Alice are part of the Campfire team at Orange Sky. They all bring different backgrounds and skill sets with them, but share the same goal – improved outcomes for our friends.

Kaira Wong


1. What is your role in the Campfire team
I am the UI/UX Designer in Campfire’s product team.

2. What does a typical day look like for you?
I spend my days gathering research, hunting for bugs on existing features and designing exciting new additions to expand Campfire’s offerings.

3. What excites you about being in not-for profit (NFP) tech?
The NFP industry is one that has faced many challenges in being able to find technology that truly understands its needs, and has often had to adapt its way of operations to fit the mould of commercial platforms.

Just as people need to wear shoes that fit well to walk comfortably, each sector also needs technology attuned to their needs and wants – and being a part of this journey to create technology tailored to the NFP industry is a huge source of excitement and motivation for me.

Bandita Sharma


1. What is your role in the Campfire team
I am a front end developer.

2. What does a typical day look like for you?
I am responsible for implementing the visual elements of Campfire. Although I am known for my love for detail and pixel perfection, I also love to learn everything web-related to stay relevant to the ever-changing tech landscape.

3. What excites you about being in a NFP tech?
My interest in combining technical skills with social good and social impact comes from my background in social work and software development. Technology and digital transformation comes with the good, the bad and the ugly. I believe in harnessing the good of technology to empower communities and tackle some of the challenges of the NFP sector. I am committed to bringing about change in the NPF sector… one line of code at a time.

Bandita Sharma


1. What is your role in the Campfire team?
I am a front end developer

2. What does a typical day look like for you?
I am responsible for implementing the visual elements of Campfire. Although I am known for my love for detail and pixel perfection, I also love to learn everything web-related to stay relevant to the ever-changing tech landscape.

3. What excites you about being in NFP tech?
My interest in combining technical skills with social good and social impact comes from my background in social work and software development. Technology and digital transformation comes with the good, the bad and the ugly. I believe in harnessing the good of technology to empower communities and tackle some of the challenges of NFP sector. I am committed to bring about the change NFP sector needs one line of code at a time.

Alice Spies


1. What is your role in the Campfire team?
I am the Customer Success Coordinator.

2. What does a typical day look like for you?
I liaise with our current partners of Campfire to ensure that everything is running smoothly, but also to on-board their volunteers successfully. This is a dream role for me, as it combines a lot of different experiences I have had over the years and piles it into a job in which I wear a lot of different hats (and love it!).

3. What excites you about being in NFP tech?
NFP tech is so different to anything I have ever worked in before – from the founder stories of our partners to the vision and dream of their missions. But it doesn’t stop there – the amazing people that make the vision and mission possible are the volunteers.

Being a volunteer is a commitment of time and character, and finding a way to recognise and reward those volunteers can be a struggle for our partners. Enabling this through technology is incredibly powerful and the most rewarding part of my job.

Kaira, Bandita and Alice are just three of the incredible women at Orange Sky who are making a difference every day. We’re grateful for all the women in our community who help make Orange Sky a place where everyone feels connected, included and genuinely welcome.

Help us support the 116,000 Australians who are doing it tough.

Donate Today

Providing Connection These Holidays

As we get close to the summer holidays, many people are wrapping up at work and looking forward to some well earned time off and connection with close friends and family.
At Orange Sky, our main aim at this time is to operate as consistently as possible so our friends know that the free laundry and showers and, even more importantly, a friendly yarn will be there. Nic and I both know that services can drop off over the holidays, and our friends can feel even more isolated and disconnected from the community than throughout the year.
When we first started Orange Sky, it was just Nic, myself and a few friends and family members supporting the operation. We didn’t really even think of it as volunteering – it was just about getting out to do something we thought would help people doing it tough.
We now understand the power of volunteering and the dual role it plays in not only helping our friends on the street, but also the volunteers themselves. We have heard so many amazing stories from our volunteers that highlight the well-being, as well as sense of belonging, that volunteering provides them.

[vc_headings style="theme2" linewidth="500" borderwidth="1" borderclr="#000000" title="Key Statistics" titlesize="30" titleclr="#000000"][/vc_headings]

In 2010, 36.2% of people aged 18+ (6.1 million) had volunteered. 

In 2010, formal volunteering (excluding travel) was worth $25.4 billion to the Australian economy.

96% of volunteers say that it “makes people happier.”

Sustained volunteering is associated with better mental health.


Over the last few months, I have come to know one of our friends, Ros, really well. I have had many conversations with her about her life and how she came to use the Orange Sky service. She is an amazing women that has been regularly coming to Orange Sky shifts for over three years. She now provides support for fellow friends through a simple thing like a conversation. I think she really embodies our mission to Positively Connect Communities.
I would encourage you to listen to her story and please consider whether you may be able to support our friends like Ros these holidays.
Any support you can give would assist us in offering a reliable service that provides our friends with a place to feel welcome over the holidays.

Donate Now

I want to wish all of our supporters a safe and happy holiday period and an amazing new year ahead.
A special shout out to everyone that contributes to keeping our vans on the road – we are continually blown away by the passion of our volunteers and their willingness to give up time to support our friends. Also to our incredible donors, who believe in our mission and help keep our washers spinning and showers flowing. If you’d like to make a donation and support our friends these holidays, please click on the button below.
Thank you so much for your support.
– Lucas

Support our friends on the street this holiday period

Donate Now

Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN: 85890622990 • All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)


Joe's Story

Hey, my name is Joe and I’m the team leader for the Orange Sky free laundry service at Musgrave Park. I’ve been doing some type of volunteering with Orange Sky since 2015, so coming up to four years now. I love it.
I find that since I finished university and starting work full time, I can get a pretty narrow focus on work and life. Coming out on shift with our friends and having genuine conversations with people that have a different life experience helps me after a busy day to get a bit of perspective. I go home feeling a bit lighter, feeling like I can sort of check in with my life and my place in the world and it just puts me in a better mood I think. That’s what keeps me coming back. 
Before starting to volunteer with Orange Sky, I had a pretty stereotypical view of people experiencing homelessness. I would see the people on the side of the street begging for money or people who looked like they’re down on their luck, and that was the extent of my exposure to the issue. Coming out on an Orange Sky shift, you learn that everyone who comes to shift is very easy to chat to and there’s plenty of characters. Hearing their stories always highlights to me that most of our friends are really just one or two bad breaks removed from my own experience. They have made me see everyone, no matter how they appear at face value, as real people and part of the community just like anyone else. 

[vc_headings style="theme2" linewidth="500" borderwidth="1" borderclr="#000000" title="Key Statistics" titlesize="30" titleclr="#000000"][/vc_headings]

In 2010, 36.2% of people aged 18+ (6.1 million) had volunteered. 

In 2010, formal volunteering (excluding travel) was worth $25.4 billion to the Australian economy.

96% of volunteers say that it “makes people happier.”

Sustained volunteering is associated with better mental health.


I first met Ros at Musgrave Park on this shift. She was probably one of the first washes we did and has been a constant presence ever since. She’s a real connector on shift between volunteers and friends. She knows everyone, checks in with everyone and helps build this sense of connectivity and empathy for everyone. I think she’s someone who really brings everyone together and creates a big sense of that community. She knows everyone by name and has a specific little question for everyone to make them feel welcome. I think she really fosters that sense of community that we have going here now. She’s a big part of getting that going and a reason why people come back.
I don’t necessarily have any idea of what our friends have been through to get to this point, but I know that Christmas can be a difficult time. Personally, I really look forward to catching up with my family and people I haven’t seen in a while. It reminds you that you’re part of a bigger group of people who all care about each other and a lot of our friends on shifts don’t have those connections. They don’t always have people around them they can go and be with over the holiday period. I think that could make someone feel pretty lonely, and I’d like to think that the sense of community that friends like Ros help create goes some of the way to filling that void. Everyone can be there for each other and say g’day and catch up. We’ll try and operate right through the holidays so we can maintain those connections and be there for our friends.

Coming out around the Christmas period is always a highlight of my year. I came out last year and just felt like I was part of Orange Sky’s mission to be a consistent presence for our friends. It’s a good feeling to be able to come out with the team at a time like Christmas to show our friends we really are committed and it’s no skin off our back. I mean it’s a couple of hours a week or fortnight and I think it is much more powerful to be consistent and reliable then just come when you can. It’s good that Orange Sky works hard to operate right the way through and it really helps strengthen how genuine the community is.

I get a lot out of it for myself, to be honest. To come and spend time with our community down here was a great way to finish Christmas for me. I got a lot out of it to come and say Merry Christmas to everyone and put a smile on all their faces and it puts a smile on my face. I wouldn’t keep doing it if I didn’t get a lot out of it. I think something that the volunteers and supporters can take comfort in is that you’re getting out what you put in. If you come along and get involved, you really do create genuine connections and it’s no longer just an obligation to turn up to a shift. You want to go and catch up with friends like Ros and I think just knowing that you provide a bit to them makes you feel good for coming.

Support our friends on the street this holiday period

Donate Now

Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN: 85890622990 • All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)


Ros' Story

In 2013, I became homeless. Before this I was very secure with two children who were both about to finish school. Then when the marriage broke up and I was the odd one out. That was really hard because the children and I had been really close. We had to be close in the household, and so it was really hard to not be there for important things. My daughter was in grade 12, so she was just finishing school. My son was at university. Then my daughter got married, and I wasn’t really part of her preparation, which as a mother, I should be.
Sometimes you need to separate yourself to find out who you are. I guess I had to go through that as well.
It was really hard, because to work out who I was I needed to get rid of all the negative influences over my life. I was growing differently and I wasn’t conforming to what people thought I was. So, a lot of people close to me thought I should be crazy because I was coming out of a bit of a mess.
My son became engaged and he was married in December 2013. I wasn’t a part of it. I wasn’t even invited to the wedding, so it was a real separation. It was heartbreaking because these things are only a one-off opportunity.

[vc_headings style="theme2" linewidth="500" borderwidth="1" borderclr="#000000" title="Key Statistics" titlesize="30" titleclr="#000000"][/vc_headings]

One in seven homeless Australians are 55 years or older

A third of people over 55 are living on less than $400 a week

Between 2011 and 2016, the proportion of older people who were homeless increased. 

Older people living in severely crowded dwellings increased to 44 per cent in 2016, from 35 per cent in 2001.


I guess I knew it had to happen and I had some good positive people around me at that stage. I used to have a conversation with a friend every evening. This evening, I phoned him and he told me his news for the day. I said, “Now,have you finished?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “I just came home and the house is empty. I can’t get in and I wasn’t sure what would happen next.”
My first step to finding a place to stay was a room in Sunnybank and the bedroom was 10 meters from a six lane highway that sounded like planes taking off every few minutes. So I didn’t sleep for a little while.
I did have a roof over my head for a while. One time I stayed at the back of a shop, but I was inside the shop, not outside. And then, I used to hitch every weekend up to Hervey Bay to see my mother who was in aged care up there. She’d been shifted from Beaudesert so I would sleep out up there on the TAFE college veranda, in a park or even in the facility grounds.
It was very isolating. I have two sisters, but I didn’t see them. So it wasn’t just my children I lost. It was my siblings as well. I guess further than that was the cousins. Then in 2015, mum died and that made a big impact on my life. One more connection gone, and a feeling of loss to deal with. This was when I realised that I needed to find a connection with other people, other people that were by themselves.

After this I realised I needed to find places in Brisbane where I felt safe at night. In Brisbane, there are people around, so you’re always a bit alert at night. I used to stay close to Musgrave Park in a spot that was probably only about six foot from the footpath. People would walk past all the time but I could hear people coming because of their steps on the bitumen or the talking, I just had to not move. Wherever you are, you hear different noises, so you’re sort of alert. You don’t know always what the noises are.
I never slept with other people and I would walk further than most people to find a place where I could stay. There’s been some interesting situations where I have stayed. I seem to keep moving further and further from the city because more and more people seem to be sleeping out in the city. It’s interesting because when you’re walking around you think, “Oh,that’d be an all right place to sleep.”

A lot of places I stayed would obviously had been used by others, because at different times I’d found syringes there. I used to go past where I slept before I went in to make sure there was no one else there. One night, there was a couple of people sitting on the steps and I thought, “Oh, what am I going to do here? I thought about it. I thought, no, this is my camp. So I went in and I said, “Okay, you guys. Out of here. This is my camp.” And they just left.
That was in this area. I guess that was a more prominent place, but there’s a lot of noise and flashing lights and sirens all night. But where I go  otherwise, it’s generally not as noisy. But sometimes it’s hard to find a place when it’s raining. It’s easy when it’s not raining, but a bit of rain makes it really hard.
I am still sleeping in different spots at the moment. I move around a bit so I can still operate my business selling flowers. It is nice to have a little bit of money for different things but it doesn’t provide enough money to pay for a place to stay. I need to depend on homelessness services around the city and that’s what led me to start getting my clothes washed with Orange Sky.
I can get my sleeping bag and my sleeping gear washed and dried within the hour. So that means that I can wash it and use it the same night. It makes me feel good to be able to do that.

The Musgrave Park shift is a safe place to come to, it’s a regular thing, and it’s consistent. We need consistency. We need routine in our lives, and even if only coming twice a week to here, that’s a plus. At least it’s a start.
I come to the Musgrave Park shifts twice a week and now feel like this is my family. I talk with the volunteers and get to know everyone that attends really well. I think I am known as a bit of a nosy parker, but also think that everyone likes talking to me about what is happening in their lives.
The connection it provides is massive and even if a friend of the service may not be here and a volunteer asked about them I will tell them, “Oh, they asked after you at Orange Sky.” They will then think “Oh, well, I’m just not a nobody. There’s someone that’s thinking about me.” That has to start a value system that, hey, there is someone that’s thinking about me. And for people that are separated, that’s a huge thing. And then you see steps that they do to change or to be more connected, and for normal people, that might be so small. But for some of these people, it’s a huge step and you can see changes then.
It’s important for Orange Sky shifts to keep happening, for the vans to keep coming out because that’s the connection. For some people, it may be the only connection that they have. The volunteers come out every time to the different locations and they know the people that are regularly there and they can interact with them. And it’s great that the people that haven’t got families, that are disconnected, have got somewhere that they can go. People can ask them what’s changed, you know, where it’s going, what’s going on and so forth, and build up a relationship with them. The volunteers are so important.

My life is on the up now. I am back in touch with my children and I am working enough to feel like I have some purpose. In those times when things are not gelling, you have to be patient. I knew it would turn around, but you can’t push it. You can’t push it. You’ve just got to wait for it to turn around.
I always find Christmas to be an interesting time of year, especially when I was very disconnected from my family. Everything you see is family related, people celebrating and you don’t see the sad stories. New Years Eve is the same. People are out there celebrating, but if you’re not part of a group or society or whatever, you become very disconnected. So to have the services available where people can still come together is great because that’s your connection. That’s your stable and that becomes your family.

Support our friends on the street this holiday period

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Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN: 85890622990 • All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)


One year on from winning $1 million

Jay Almaraz, Campfire Product Lead


If ever the Orange Sky story was one that begged to be shared, 90 seconds was far from the ideal length of time – but that was the challenge we were tasked with if we wanted to walk away with $1 million from Google.org.

We landed in Sydney before the sun had set the day prior and met up for dinner with an expectedly casual Lucas and an uncharacteristically anxious Nic. Tomorrow was the day of the Google Impact Challenge (GIC), an initiative by Google.org to power community minded projects. For the rest of us, the day was an opportunity to explore the Google Sydney campus and bump shoulders with other bright and interesting people. But for Nic, the day centred on a single performance; the pitch. Show them what you’ve got, pitch your idea, tell them where we’re going, and why Google.org should be the ones to help us get there.

It wasn’t a red vs. blue competition, everybody was there for the same reason; hoping to make the biggest possible impact for the community. Still, the panel of judges had the challenge of selecting three organisations out of the ten finalists. Eventually the time came to announce the winners: Xceptional – helping people with autism overcome employment challenges, Humanitix – a platform turning ticket surcharge into social impact, and Hireup – a platform for people with disabilities to connect with the perfect support workers.

Each winner accepted their position with a quick word of thanks, then returned to their seats. We all remained glued to ours, the pit in my stomach was so big I mightn’t have been able to stand up even if I tried. It wasn’t over yet though, as there was another award to be presented… the People’s Choice: Orange Sky.

Our mission is to positively connect communities, and that mission goes beyond vans and laundry. Community is a symbol of connection, conversation and depends entirely on the people within. It makes us so proud to think that our Orange Sky community, the people we connect with, backed us through the Google Impact Challenge. It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to an exciting new Orange Sky story.

Campfire is a platform built to empower other volunteer driven organisations with the tools to amplify their social impact, and connect with their volunteers. Campfire delivers features that have been derived from systems Orange Sky has been using and developing every day since 2016. The Google Impact Challenge award money has allowed us to fast track the development of Campfire, starting with finding the right people.

Growing Campfire from the stem of Orange Sky’s technology is an engineering problem, and to solve it we needed engineers. We set our sights on recruiting software developers who were talented in their craft, tenacious in their character and passionate in their purpose. At each point along the way, we found someone who fit the bill, and the result is a tremendous trio who have since joined myself and Tony on the engineering team. Tom, Lewis, and Bandita are all onboard now to help build Campfire to be the best platform possible.

Without a design team, Campfire was at risk of being a splintery ship; painful to look at and hazardous to board. The amazing Kaira joined the crew and is our User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX) designer. Thanks to her guidance, Campfire is a pleasure to use and a beauty to behold. We are establishing an experience that is as frictionless as software can be, for every volunteer and manager, every step of the way.

With the addition of Mike to help us lead the project, we had a team ready to power our ship and we set sail. Inheriting some early work, our captains were at the wheel and Campfire was well underway. With the GIC award filling our sails and a crew founded under Orange Sky’s mission, we are steering Campfire to the destination that we imagined one year ago. A platform to give the for-purpose sector a new edge through technology, to ultimately amplify their social impact and help to positively connect the community.

A huge thank you must go to Google.org – without their support, we wouldn’t have achieved what we have to date in building Campfire and creating a tool to help volunteer organisations around Australia and the world.

Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN: 85890622990 • All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)


Safetember

According to the Work Health and Safety Act, while at work, a worker must:

(a) take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety; and

(b) take reasonable care that his or her acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons;

Now, this sounds a lot like one of our Orange Person Characteristics…

We have a legal requirement to make sure that our actions or inactions do not adversely affect those around us. So how can we look out for each other when we’re out on shift or at work? We’ve put together three key actions to help us look out for each other…
1. Leadership
What do we mean by leadership? There are many definitions of leadership, but one of our favourites is – leadership is influence. This speaks of one’s ability to influence those around them regardless of their position through leading by example and encouraging others either directly (teaching) or indirectly (through a positive attitude and example) to follow their lead. We may not all be managers but we can all be leaders regardless of our position or title. Together we can be a positive influence on each other helping to reinforce and cement Orange Sky’s culture of safety and our values. We can also lead by sharing our safety knowledge with each other and new members of the team, continuing to develop our lens of safety as we discussed last week and encouraging others to develop theirs too.
2. Mindfulness
Mindfulness is somewhat of a buzz word at the moment and depending on the context it can mean slightly different things. For the purpose of this exercise, we like to define mindfulness as: being consciously aware of and focusing on immediate surroundings, people, actions, and situations one is currently engaged in. Or simply put – being engaged in the moment. Last week we mentioned situational awareness, so think of mindfulness as a form of self-awareness – it involves being engaged in the moment and understanding how our actions or inaction can impact our surroundings and the people around us. Ask yourself “could my actions negatively impact someone now or later today?” If you are aware of any actions that could impact someone or put someone’s personal safety at risk, ask yourself if there is a safer way of completing the task? Make sure you communicate with all those your task could impact, don’t assume others know what you are doing or know what the hazards and risks could include. Be sure to communicate directly with those your task impacts.
3. Housekeeping
One of the easiest ways we can make sure our actions or inaction don’t impact those around us is by practising good housekeeping. Without trying to sound like a nagging parent, this is basically making sure we tidy up after ourselves, put things away once we’ve finished using them and putting things back where they belong so others can find and use them after us. Good housekeeping also involves letting people know if you plan to make a big mess or work in a corridor or block a thoroughfare or make a lot of noise regardless if there is a hazard present or not. Good housekeeping involves packing up correctly after shift and leaving the van in a good condition so those coming after us can find everything they need to have an amazing and safe shift themselves.
By being a person of influence, being mindful and practising good housekeeping, we can all be sure we’ll be looking out for one another and helping to keep each other safe. Embrace being a leader today and become a person of influence encouraging others to look out for one another’s safety.
Tomorrow is the perfect opportunity to practice looking out for each other on R U OK? Day. As volunteers, we know you are passionate about the simple reminder that conversations are important and powerful. We hope you’ll take the time this week to check in on the people in your life, but also reflect on your own well-being. For more information, visit the R U OK? Day website.

Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN: 85890622990 • All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)