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.

Donate Now


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


International Volunteer Day: Meet Helen

Sometimes we wonder if volunteers know the impact that they have on the lives of others; not just the people they encounter through volunteering, but the people they come across in everyday life. At Orange Sky, we are continually blown away by the generosity, kindness and compassion of our volunteers across Australia. We currently have more than 1,500 of them.

Today is International Volunteer Day and we are celebrating our volunteers and highlighting what they do best; sitting down on an orange chair, having a conversation and positively connecting with person in need.

There is no formula that makes up the typical volunteer. There is the university student with a few hours between lectures, the full-time worker who has their evenings free, the parent who has time to spare while the kids are at school, and the retiree who wants to give back after a life of employment. No two volunteers are the same, and yet all similar in the way that they bring people together through connection and genuine conversation.

Helen is one of our volunteers at Orange Sky’s laundry service in Melbourne.

She became a volunteer because she wanted to get involved and help out in a meaningful way – but has felt just as rewarded by the experience.

“We learn about compassion, understanding and acceptance, and so I think a lot of the volunteers really get a lot more out of it than we feel that we give.”

Watch the video below to hear more about Helen’s story.

Volunteer with Orange Sky

Volunteer Now


What we plan to do with $1 million…

Four years ago, Orange Sky co-founder Nicholas Marchesi put two red p plates on an orange van and picked up his best mate, Lucas Patchett, in Brisbane. Charged with a brand new van with two washers and two dryers, they were en route to Melbourne to help people doing it tough. This was the second van they had built and the first heading outside the safe confines of Brisbane. 

Launch day was a great success but there was one massive challenge – they had no tool to recruit, roster, measure or protect volunteers, donors, and most importantly friends.
Twenty-nine vans, 11,000 volunteer applications, 40,000 shifts, 3,000 incident reports and one million kilograms of washing later, Orange Sky has designed a web app to help us deliver our mission to Positively Connect Communities. It allows us to track the number of washes, showers and hours of conversation we provide for our friends. The app also supports our volunteers by reporting any safety incidents and ensuring our vans are on the road every day. 

The $1 million from Google has given us the opportunity to grow our web app and provide the entire sector with the same technology that drives Orange Sky. There is so much to do, but with this support, we know that we can scale our technology to make a massive difference for people doing it tough all over Australia.
Tonight in Australia, 116,000 people are experiencing homelessness and over 3,000 service providers are trying to help. Orange Sky has connected 17,000 people but working together, as a sector, we could help thousands more. 

Our web app will enable charities and community groups to record and track their mobile outreach service delivery. The web-based solution will empower these charities who provide essential services including food, health, hygiene, and housing to measure the impact of those services on people in need. This will be the first and only centralised solution that accurately and consistently tracks and measures homelessness service delivery and impact.
It was awesome to stand alongside Hireup, Humanitix and Xceptional as winners for the Google Impact Challenge.
Stay tuned for regular updates and walk with us as we progress towards this amazing opportunity for the Australian not for profit sector.

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

Donate Now


Conversations Across Cultures

It was a bleak, winter night in Parramatta but we had been having fun with several friends who had warmed themselves with a BBQ dinner, hot showers, freshly cleaned clothes and lively conversation. We had started to get ready to pack up, waiting for one load of clothes to finish its drying cycle. A few friends remained chatting with volunteers but there was one man seated alone on an orange chair. He was quite an old man, well into his seventies I think, and he looked lonely sitting there by himself. I decided to sit down beside him and see if he wanted to chat.

It was pretty obvious from the outset that he spoke little English. He pointed to the van and I understood that his washing was still in the dryer, which was obviously why he was sitting, waiting. Through a combination of a few English words, hand signals and a trusty iphone, I soon learned that he had come from Syria and was staying with relatives while trying to figure out where to live.

He animatedly talked about the dangers of living in Syria and the everyday terror of living in a war torn country. He showed me photos of several of his children who were dotted all over the world. His eyes filled with pride over the beauty of one of his daughters, and the fear was etched on his face when he showed me one of his sons, who must have still been in Syria. It was an extraordinary conversation, made so much more special somehow by the absence of a shared language.

After about 15 minutes, a volunteer who had been helping with tidying up around the van came up and spoke to me and asked if the man spoke Arabic. Of course he did! I’d been struggling to communicate for 15 minutes and here was a young woman who could speak the man’s language!!! I was then able to ask so many more of my questions and find out so much more about his life. He asked us about Orange Sky and what we all did. We all chatted and laughed about nothing and everything.

Another of the volunteers removed the man’s belongings from the dryer and put the still warm clothes carefully into the man’s shopping jeep. The man spoke softly to the volunteer who spoke his language and said, “you people provide a beautiful service”. He pushed his little jeep forward and shook hands with each of us, then waved goodbye as he walked away. It struck me that this interaction typifies the magic of Orange Sky, the basic but respectful act of washing someone’s clothes, engaging with them in simple yet powerful connections, and parting company from them knowing that they, and you, are enriched by the experience.

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

Donate Now