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. 

Key Statistics

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

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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.

Key Statistics

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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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.

Find out more about Campfire.

Learn More


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.


Homelessness Week 2019

At Orange Sky HQ, the words ‘positively connecting communities’ are written in giant letters on a wall that overlooks our office space. It’s hard to miss them. These three words feature on every one of our vans around Australia and New Zealand – and they also happen to be our mission statement.

It might come as a surprise that we don’t use the terms ‘laundry’, ‘showers’ or even ‘conversation’ in our mission – because what we do is all about connection and building relationships.

We often share stories of connection through friends like George, who come down to shift every week for a chat on our six orange chairs.

Or volunteers like Helen, who are so generous with their time and are passionate about giving back to the community.

This week, as part of Homelessness Week (August 4 – 10), we wanted to highlight some of the amazing service providers that we work alongside every day. Our vans operate at more than 250 locations across the country – and we (literally) could not do what we do without the support of so many incredible partners.

We spoke to a few of them about why it’s important to work together to better support our friends while they’re doing it tough.

Sonia | Sunny Street


“We’ve found the collaborative approach to be the best way to provide care. We didn’t want to duplicate any service, so we linked in with groups and we found that there was a huge need and a massive outcry for healthcare in these spaces. That wrap around model is absolutely vital to accessing services for people who are homeless.”

Melanie | Share the Dignity


“If we all work together, we can make amazing things happen. No one organisation alone has all the answers, but if we all do as much as we can, we can go a long way to tackling the problem [of homelessness].”

Steve | Community Support Frankston


“For us, it’s about looking at initiatives that are already going on, engaging with different groups and being able to co-locate and have different partnerships. We’re all on a similar mission, it’s about helping people that are really disadvantaged and giving them a bit of a leg up.”

Maxine | Warrawong Community Centre


“If Orange Sky didn’t do their thing and us as a small community [centre] didn’t do our thing, I think there’d be more people who are homeless.

There’s a fine line between having a home and a family, and when your life can just turn in a fraction of a second and you could become homeless. I don’t think people get that.”

Pastor Sigi | Seventh Day Adventist Church


“We’re trying to connect with our community in all facets, at all levels. Up here in Darwin, we have a lot of long grass mob… they’re going from day to day just trying to survive. We want to try offer a service that not only helps them but also encourages our young people, our own members and our community to get involved.

For a lot of these folk that are here… this is the highlight of their week, and we’re glad that we – along with Orange Sky and everyone that we partner with – are able to give them that service. It may only be a small gesture, but to them it means a lot.”

Dianne | St John's Crisis Centre


“As I say to people, I would love to go out of business but unfortunately it’s a growing business. We’re getting more and more people in crisis, whether it’s domestic violence victims, people that have lost their jobs, mental health, drug and alcohol issues – it’s a myriad of different things that cause people to come to our centre.

It’s really important for people to be aware of the problem of homelessness, because it’s quite hidden from our society today. The atypical homeless person with the beard and the trolley – it’s not like that anymore. It could be you or me walking down the street, no one would know. Community awareness is really really important.”

Lydia | Our Community Place


“Orange Sky has been absolutely beneficial to our service. We’ve seen a few more families come through now, and I think having Orange Sky here, they’re able to stay here a little bit longer and chat and we’re able to explore in depth some of the issues and be able to support them longer term. It’s been a real vital service here.

My background is in community development, I love being out there in the community and just identifying gaps and being able to support where ever possible.”

This week around Australia, Orange Sky will support and connect friends by providing more than 1,000 loads of washing, 150 hot showers and 1,600 hours of genuine conversation. But, thankfully, we are not in this alone.

Friends who come along to Orange Sky shifts also have the opportunity to access other essential services that are run by people who understand the importance of building a stronger community.

One in 200 Australians don’t have a place to call home tonight. The only way to support everyone who needs it is work together and positively connect the community as one.


Two Guys, a Van, and a Crazy Idea

In 2014, two young blokes named Nic and Lucas found out that there were 116,000 Australians experiencing homelessness.

To put that in perspective, the MCG – our country’s biggest sporting arena – holds 100,000 people. Let that sink in for a bit.

Nic and Lucas knew that it was a big number and they wanted to do something to help. They had a crazy idea to build a free mobile laundry service and decided to hit up a big laundry company to get some washers and dryers.

The boys were told that it would never work, that no one would wash and dry their clothes in a park and that the machines would never operate in the back of a van.

It took them three days (and three sets of washing machines and dryers from the laundry company) to get the van working.

Nic, Lucas and Sudsy hit the streets and met a friend named Jordan. With the machines in full swing, there wasn’t a lot left to do but sit down and chat – and that’s where they learnt the real impact of the service. Sure, having clean clothes was important, but sitting down with Jordan and genuinely listening to his experience meant so much more.

That’s why at Orange Sky, our mission doesn’t involve the words ‘laundry’ or ‘washing’ – it is to positively connect communities.

We see everyday the power of a simple conversation and how feeling connected and part of a community can change a person’s life.

Here’s just a few of the friends that we’ve learnt that from over the past four and a half years:

George, Perth


George is one of our friends on the street who comes to shift each week to wash his clothes, have a warm shower and sit down for a chat with volunteers. He knows that he can rely on Orange Sky to be at the same place, same time, each and every week.

George has spent the past eight years living on and off the street and said it was the simple things that often had the biggest impact. “When you’ve been homeless for such a long time, it’s the small things that can give you a little bit more hope.”

Harry, Brisbane


When we first met Harry, he didn’t have a home, but we were able to provide him with access to clean clothes and genuine conversation. Harry taught us that homelessness is not about the absence of a roof over your head, but rather the absence of human connection. Although he no longer uses our laundry service, Harry still comes down every week for a chat with volunteers on our six orange chairs.

Luke, Sydney


Luke found himself living on the street after a serious relationship breakdown 10 years ago.
He is now getting his life back on track and said it was the support and genuine care of people in his life who helped him through such a difficult time. Every day across Australia, Orange Sky is able to provide friends like Luke with clean clothes, warm showers and genuine connection.

116,000 Australians are disconnected from the community and in need of support and human connection. But there’s something we can all do to help.

At Orange Sky, we’re lucky to have an amazing community of people who believe in what we do and support our crazy ideas – like the one to build a free mobile laundry van named Sudsy.

So, here’s another one for you all. It’s called The Sudsy Challenge; keep your kit on for three days, start conversations and support friends on the street.

Wearing the same clothes for three days in a row might be difficult or inconvenient, but that’s the whole point. It might give you just a small insight into some of the many challenges faced by our friends on the street. But it also might start a few conversations. Conversations that will help to raise funds and awareness so that everyone can have access to free laundry, warm showers and genuine conversation.

Help us build more vans like Sudsy and positively connect all Australians in need.

Sign up today for The Sudsy Challenge!


A Sudsy Supporter

Meet Chelsea. She started working with Orange Sky in January and since then, we’ve learnt a few things about her; she is afraid of butterflies (we know, SO MANY QUESTIONS), she never reads the last page of a novel and she’s great at bringing in a buck or two (not surprising that she’s an Accountant!)

Chelsea and her partner, Arno are among our top fundraisers for The Sudsy Challenge, raising nearly $600 towards their goal of $1152 (which will support four friends for one whole year).

She said being part of The Sudsy Challenge gave her the opportunity to raise awareness about homelessness and experiences in her own community.

“Many of us are fortunate enough not to be in this situation, but there is something we can do to make a difference,” she said.

“My partner and I decided to do The Sudsy Challenge to help support the 116,000 Australians who are experiencing homelessness. We want to raise $567 to help support two friends for one whole year – and we pledge to match donations dollar for dollar, so we can help a total of four friends.

“We are passionate about volunteering and we are now very excited about taking the next step in furthering our impact!

“We hope people will join us in raising awareness for friends doing it tough and pitch in what they can – and don’t forget that it’s tax deductible!”

Chelsea is one of 2400 people who have signed up for The Sudsy Challenge and helped to raise more than $115,000 for people doing it tough.

Kitted up in her Sudsy shirt, Chelsea said she was hoping to have lots of “positive and informative” chats.

“We want to get out as much as we can because it’s a great opportunity to introduce Orange Sky and the Sudsy Challenge to our community! Since we are doing this as a team, we are planning on sticking together for the weekend. We are hoping that the matching t-shirts will invite a lot of curious eyes to our cause,” she said.

“We’ll start with our routine weekend errands, add in a few social engagements and end our weekend at our shower shift at Emma Miller Place.

“We want to emphasise the value in the conversations we have on our six orange chairs and hope that people will come to appreciate that broader conversations about homelessness must continue.”

Although Chelsea has only been with Orange Sky for a few short months, she’s had a huge impact already and is continuing her support for friends on the street through The Sudsy Challenge.

“Homelessness can happen to ANYONE. The power of empathy and human connection is what always pulls us back to Orange Sky’s mission of positively connecting communities. Without the continuous love and support that Arno and I have so graciously received throughout our lives, it could have happened to either of us. Being a part of the Orange Sky family and the Sudsy Challenge is our way of paying that love and support forward to those who deserve it just as much as we do.”

Want to support Chelsea and Arno?

Donate here


Two Guys, a Van, and a Crazy Idea

In 2014, two young blokes named Nic and Lucas found out that there were 116,000 Australians experiencing homelessness.

To put that in perspective, the MCG – our country’s biggest sporting arena – holds 100,000 people. Let that sink in for a bit.

Nic and Lucas knew that it was a big number and they wanted to do something to help. They had a crazy idea to build a free mobile laundry service and decided to hit up a big laundry company to get some washers and dryers.

The boys were told that it would never work, that no one would wash and dry their clothes in a park and that the machines would never operate in the back of a van.

It took them three days (and three sets of washing machines and dryers from the laundry company) to get the van working.

Nic, Lucas and Sudsy hit the streets and met a friend named Jordan. With the machines in full swing, there wasn’t a lot left to do but sit down and chat – and that’s where they learnt the real impact of the service. Sure, having clean clothes was important, but sitting down with Jordan and genuinely listening to his experience meant so much more.

That’s why at Orange Sky, our mission doesn’t involve the words ‘laundry’ or ‘washing’ – it is to positively connect communities.

We see everyday the power of a simple conversation and how feeling connected and part of a community can change a person’s life.

Here’s just a few of the friends that we’ve learnt that from over the past four and a half years:

George, Perth


George is one of our friends on the street who comes to shift each week to wash his clothes, have a warm shower and sit down for a chat with volunteers. He knows that he can rely on Orange Sky to be at the same place, same time, each and every week.

George has spent the past eight years living on and off the street and said it was the simple things that often had the biggest impact. “When you’ve been homeless for such a long time, it’s the small things that can give you a little bit more hope.”

Harry, Brisbane


When we first met Harry, he didn’t have a home, but we were able to provide him with access to clean clothes and genuine conversation. Harry taught us that homelessness is not about the absence of a roof over your head, but rather the absence of human connection. Although he no longer uses our laundry service, Harry still comes down every week for a chat with volunteers on our six orange chairs.

Luke, Sydney


Luke found himself living on the street after a serious relationship breakdown 10 years ago.
He is now getting his life back on track and said it was the support and genuine care of people in his life who helped him through such a difficult time. Every day across Australia, Orange Sky is able to provide friends like Luke with clean clothes, warm showers and genuine connection.

116,000 Australians are disconnected from the community and in need of support and human connection. But there’s something we can all do to help.

At Orange Sky, we’re lucky to have an amazing community of people who believe in what we do and support our crazy ideas – like the one to build a free mobile laundry van named Sudsy.

So, here’s another one for you all. It’s called The Sudsy Challenge; keep your kit on for three days, start conversations and support friends on the street.

Wearing the same clothes for three days in a row might be difficult or inconvenient, but that’s the whole point. It might give you just a small insight into some of the many challenges faced by our friends on the street. But it also might start a few conversations. Conversations that will help to raise funds and awareness so that everyone can have access to free laundry, warm showers and genuine conversation.

Help us build more vans like Sudsy and positively connect all Australians in need.

Sign up today for The Sudsy Challenge!


Supporting Townsville

In March 2018, when we launched Orange Sky’s laundry and shower service in Townsville, I told everyone “it never rains here”. Growing up in Ingham, 100km north of Townsville, I’d been through enough wet seasons to know that ‘rain’ and ‘Townsville’ were two words that generally didn’t go together.

But what did I know? The week of the Townsville service launch, it rained the entire time and was the wettest launch event that we’d ever had.

Despite the weather, I remember being so proud that Orange Sky had finally made it to North Queensland. I was excited that the service would reach more people in need and was determined to help grow the community’s understanding around homelessness. Not even a year later, ‘Caz’, our laundry and shower van, has helped the community in ways that I could never have imagined.

We often hear stories of friends who have had a few things go wrong and find themselves living on the street or in a position where they need to access support services.

The ‘one-in-100 year’ flood disaster in Townsville has affected thousands of homes and left so many people without a roof over their head. Orange Sky has been able to mobilise three vehicles, including Caz, to help provide assistance to locals – many whom have become temporarily homeless through the recent weather event. A team of local volunteers and staff have done more than 4000kg of laundry, helping to restore just a little bit of normality to people’s lives.

We’ve heard so many heart breaking stories over the past few weeks, but also many of hope, resilience and community spirit. So many people who, in the face of complete disaster and adversity, have found a way to just keep going.

Like Crystal, a single mum and education student lost everything in the floods. She had no insurance and said she was too overwhelmed to even think about filling out paperwork to access support. After staying at an evacuation centre for the week (her 10-year-old son thought it was all a big adventure), she found a place to live and Orange Sky volunteers were able to help her move the small amount of belongings that she had left.

There’s Neilin (pictured left with volunteers), an 18-year-old who volunteered with a group of mates to help clean up homes around Townsville. He even found time to pop in to an Orange Sky shift to let us know he loved what we do. He told us he was grateful for our support to his community and was hoping to sign up as an Orange Sky volunteer after just turning 18. (What a legend!)

Chloe was on her way home to Hughenden when she became stranded in Townsville.

“We are all in the same boat and have nowhere to go and all been affected. People are here to help us because they want to be here, not because they have to.

You can only wear the same clothes so many times before they start to smell in the heat. It was amazing to clean my clothes and I was at the point where I would have to hand wash my clothes, so Orange Sky meant the world. To be able to wash and dry my clothes and have them handed back to me meant the world.”

There’s the people who entrusted us with their most valued possessions, and as volunteer Tony explained, it’s not a job that anyone takes lightly.

“A lady came up to me and asked if we could please try and wash something for her. She didn’t expect a perfect result, but they had lost everything. She was going to throw it out, but thought we might be able to help. It was her wedding dress, with a three-foot train and fresh water pearls. It was 80 to 90 percent humidity on this day and everything was growing mould. She couldn’t get it to a dry cleaner and there was no vinegar left anywhere.

A woman also asked if I could please take special care of these items, it’s all she managed to save from her daughter who passed away. I’m relieved to say it was successful!”

Then there’s the Townsville volunteers, some of whom were impacted themselves by flooding. Their amazing compassion, kindness and generosity has inspired us all.

Caz has supported the community in more ways than I could had ever expected – not just through laundry services, but by providing an opportunity for people to sit down, have a chat, and maybe – even just for a second – forget about their reality. What’s happened in Townsville is nothing short of devastating, but like always, North Queenslanders have a way of just getting on with it and supporting each other in times of need.

By Megan Groundwater

Help to positively connect some of the 116,000 Australians doing it tough.

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Orange Sky's One Dollar Donor

We see donations come through every single day; big and small amounts, regular or once off contributions, funds that have been raised from an event or donated for a cause.

Our Finance Manager, Emma Young (pictured above), has been at the forefront of this since she started with Orange Sky more than two years ago. Since then, she has noticed $1 go into our account every fortnight from an anonymous donor – and she has been desperate to find out who it is.

“I’ve always speculated about who it might be and have wondered if we’d ever be able to thank them. All donations, big or small, mean so much to us at Orange Sky. Every little bit counts,” she said.

“The donor had never given us their contact details so we didn’t know exactly who they were… until now!

“We sent out an email as part of our Christmas campaign and I couldn’t believe it when I saw the message in our inbox.”

It turns out the anonymous donor’s name is Alison. She told us that she’s on an Age Pension and has $1 deducted from her bank account every two weeks. She said that giving regularly to someone who deserves it is “good for the soul” and honestly our hearts could not be any fuller right now.

Emma touched base with Alison as soon as she received the message.

“I told that her that we were so excited to receive her email as we’ve noticed her fortnightly donation for years, and just how much it meant to everyone at Orange Sky and our friends on the street,” she said.

“We are so grateful to have people like Alison who believe in what we do and support us however they can.”

You can read Alison’s original message below:

Dear Orange Sky people.

I am on an OAPension and so I automatically (through my bank) donate $1 – I think it’s every month or every fortnight – from my pension. That’s all I can manage. But I encourage others to do the same. It’s not much but the totals add up, and I’ve been doing this for 2-3 years or even more – I’ve forgotten.

I praise you for your idea and work. God Bless. Have a happy Christmas – be careful, enjoy, laugh and share.

Help to positively connect some of the 116,000 Australians doing it tough.

Donate Now