The feature video will now be playing on SBS and across Foxtel channels as community service announcements for at least the next year. We hope that the people watching will spend some time chatting with their family and friends about their own ideas around homelessness and ways that we can all play a part in supporting everyone to feel positively connected.
Interested in joining the team?
Check out our volunteer page to find out more and register to get involved.
Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN/Charity ID: 85890622990 • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office
by Megan Groundwater
We met Keith on a cold winter morning in Fitzroy where he told us about a “fella in a wheelchair” that he once met on his way to the shops. The man had a sign resting on the floor asking for donations and was also unable to speak. Keith didn’t have money to offer him, but said “good day” to him in sign language (it was one of the few words Keith could remember in sign language – along with all the vowels).
“It just rung with him and he looked like a different fellow altogether because I’d said good day to him. He was really miserable before that,” Keith said.
It was clear to us to that Keith understood the power of connection and the value of a simple conversation to a person experiencing homelessness. He has first hand experience living many years on the streets of Melbourne feeling disconnected from the community.
“I had my own house once and things happened. I got assaulted on the street and it took me two years before I could walk straight again,” he said.
“I lived in parks and things like that but I didn’t stay in the same place every night, I kept on moving around the suburbs. Once I got used to living in that way, it became a way of life. And then the St Vincent’s Hospital [in Melbourne] found out how I was living and they found me a room to live in. It was a great help.”
Being part of a community is important to Keith. He came to Australia from Manchester in 1956 for the Olympic Games, and said he felt “at home” in Melbourne where the architecture was similar to Manchester.
Keith said he hoped for more understanding across the community for people in tough situations.
“There’s a big gap between people that are right at the bottom end and people that have everything,” he said.
“When you’ve got everything you want and you want more, you’ll have more than you need and you’ll lose sight of other people that are struggling.
“Communication between everyone in the world is a very important thing.”
“Hi, my name is Pete and it was 18 days since I last had a shower. I live in the middle of a lake and the dirt out there is pretty thick…it’s going to take a few more showers to get that dirt off. I am glad you will be here next week as well.
I have been living at out Lake Richmond now for the last 18 days and I have been homeless on and off for about five or six years. A lot of people couldn’t live how I do. It is a hard life and what makes it even harder is the fact that my partner passed away out there four years ago. Even though that happened, I find it very safe to live there.
I have a daughter, a mother and a sister in Perth but I don’t see them much. They are all upper-class people and when I hit the streets they disowned me…they didn’t want to know me. One of the reasons for this was that I was a bad heroin user. But…I am proud to say that I haven’t used the drug for four years now…when my partner passed away it was a massive wake up call.
I don’t really mix much with anyone. Nearly everyone in the community have no idea about homelessness, they just look down on us. It’s as if we are not part of their community because we don’t live like they do. I feel like no one wants to help us because we will just go and buy drugs or make bad decisions. Not many people want to sit down and hear my story and actually empathise with what got me into this situation.
I first heard about Orange Sky about five or six months ago now. I met you at the Salvation Army and I thought it was a good idea, you don’t get many people supporting the simple things like washing clothes and having showers.
As soon as I spoke with Lisa (Service Manager), I knew I could communicate with her. I don’t connect with many people in the community but there was something about the way she spoke to me that made me at ease. I am a very stubborn person but I was able to have a very normal and easy conversation.
I come here every Friday now and love the idea that I can have a shower and have a chat. It’s ten times as good as any shower I have had in the last five years. I feel like a new man, it’s very good that you have come along.”
That’s Dot O’Neill, she’s 76 years old and has been volunteering at Transit in Narre Warren for more than seven years.
Dot told us about her experience as a volunteer in Melbourne’s South East and said it was an opportunity to give back to the community.
“We’ve got a bit of everything – pasta, rice, breakfast cereals, noodles, baby food, canned food, jams, Vegemite. Whatever we’ve got, we give out,” she said.
“You get a lot out of it yourself… it’s something really special.”
Transit provides people in need with access to hot meals and groceries, but Dot said there’s another part of the service that is equally important.
“Some of [our guests] actually live on their own and just come here for companionship,” she said.
“Someone came in the other day and said ‘I pick up [groceries] not because I necessarily need it but because I need to get here and talk to people.’
“The atmosphere here is amazing. If you’re here for a while, you’ll see that we’ve got a team of volunteers that come in and give of themselves and at the moment, we’ve just got this lovely, friendly atmosphere.”
Dot said she felt part of a community at Transit and valued the opportunity to connect with people doing it tough.
“A lot of these people you get to know really personally. You sometimes hear the story of their life and you just feel that love for them,” she said.
“Having a mother come in here with her daughter and say to me ‘I’ve given food to my daughter but I haven’t been able to eat for a few days because I’ve just had absolutely nothing,’ that’s not an uncommon story.
“One woman had been moved from place to place and she had absolutely nothing. Just recently, she got a home and it’s just a real blessing to here.
“These are the sort of stories that really mean so much to us.”
Orange Sky operates at Transit in Narre Warren every Monday afternoon. Visit our volunteer page to find out more and register to get involved.
Orange Sky operates at Transit in Narre Warren every Monday afternoon.
Visit our volunteer page to find out more and register to get involved.
“I quite look forward to it every week, simply because I know you guys are going to be here. I can rely on you,’’ he said.
“It’s things like this that enable me to do the right thing. I don’t have to worry about trying to get some money together just to wash my clothes. Community is really important, I like to look after the community and the people in it.’’
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,’’ he said.
“I won’t go looking for a job if I stink and my clothes are dirty, but if I’ve got nice clean clothes and I smell nice and someone wants to talk to me about having a look at a job, I’ll definitely be in it.
“So that little sort of scenario can set up other scenarios that will help better my life, and if it betters my life, how many other lives can it better?”
He admitted that while it was easy to become withdrawn from the community, the weekly conversation and banter with Orange Sky volunteers helped him to feel connected.
“I can come down [to shift] and start talking about fishing, camping, whatever and you guys are always a good laugh and join in. You throw your stories in and have a good laugh,” he said.
“It just alleviates a lot of pressure out of people’s lives and that can really help people.”
When George reflects on all of his conversations with volunteers, it was one from his first ever visit to Orange Sky that comes to mind.
“I told her a little bit about where I was from up North and it was quite interesting, we just sat there talking like old friends for a good hour and a half while the washing was getting through. It was great, I really enjoyed it. It was fantastic to see that some people like to share themselves as much as I do.’’
It’s our privilege to be able to wash George’s clothes and offer him a hot shower each and every week, but an even bigger honour to enjoy his conversation and have him as a part of the Orange Sky community.
Watch the video below to hear more about Topsy’s story.
The truth is, there are a thousand different ways to do it! We’ll give you a toolkit with some fun and out of the box ideas, so it won’t even feel like you’re hosting a fundraiser. We’ll also be here to support you the whole way through and keep you going when you just don’t think you can wear those socks for a third day in a row!
You’ve hooked people in with your clothes, but what next? A big part of experiencing homelessness is feeling disconnected from the community, and that why conversations are so important. The idea is that your outfit starts conversations – and in turn, raises some much needed funds for Orange Sky.
Your choice of clothing is totally up to you. You can keep your kit on in one of our event t-shirts (that we’ll send you when you sign up), the comfiest outfit in your cupboard or something that screams ‘I am doing The Sudsy Challenge!’ like a space suit or tutu.
Receive an impact report quarterly, detailing how your partnership has positively impacted the community (ie number of washes, showers and conversations)
As National Partner, we can create customised partnership T-shirts for your team, promoting our engagement and joint branding. These can be our uniform for joint events, fundraising and promotion.
At Orange Sky HQ, we will provide a dedicated co-working space for your team. This is an area for your team to feel part of the Orange Sky journey, collaborate on hack-a-thons and deliver customer meetings that highlight the partnership.
Vehicle Partners support the capital costs (33 percent to 100 percent) of Orange Sky’s laundry ($110k), shower ($110k), hybrid ($140k) or remote vehicles ($140k), for which they receive partnership benefits in return as outlined in Partnership Benefits matrix.
National Sponsors commit to donating between $200k – $500k p/a for a minimum term of three years, for which they receive partnership benefits in return as outlined in Partnership Benefits matrix.
Principal Partners are businesses, individuals, institutions or organisations who commit to donating $500k and above p/a for a minimum term of three years, for which they receive partnership benefits in return as outlined in Partnership Benefits matrix.
State partners commit to donating between $100,000 – $200,000 p/a for a minimum term of two years, for which they receive partnership benefits in return as outlined in Partnership Benefits matrix.
An exclusive once a year Orange Sky event that brings together our network of partners, innovators and change makers in the business community. It’s an opportunity to network and collaborate with like-minded individuals as we tackle an Orange Sky challenge and hatch new ideas that will help Orange Sky continue to positively connect the community.
We will work with your corporate and social responsibility team to create a workplace giving program.
Working with your Orange Sky Partnership Manager, we will work to create a launch that encompasses your network, stakeholders, community, staff or all of the above. We have had immense impact in the media, industry and community through our creative approach to raising awareness – let us take you on that journey.
Through your unique partner portal login, you will also receive an Annual Impact Report which includes recognition of the partnership, statistics of contribution and how it has impacted the community.
We will supply you with ‘Proudly supporting Orange Sky’ or ‘Proudly supporting www.orangesky.org.au’ logos for your company marketing or event material.
Download a monthly newsletter with details on the direct impact that your contribution is making in the community. Your electronic report will arrive in the form of a co-branded email; a great tool to share with your staff, stakeholders and customers allowing them access to the most up to date information on how you are supporting our friends doing it tough.
Every partnership is a relationship and our mission at all levels is to stay connected. That is why your business will be assigned an awesome Orange Sky manager to keep you up to date on the partnership, our joint engagement and your impact. It’s important to us that you understand just how important you are! We will work with you and support you to identify and create beneficial opportunities to continue to maximize the relationship.
A regular communication on Orange Sky news, events, impact and growth. Can be sent to any number of your staff, customers, partners or community.
Access to leadership team and Orange Sky founders for professional development days, networking events or ideation sessions.
Tailored to your messaging needs, a video capturing our joint partnership produced by the Orange Sky creative team. This case study is a great tool to for internal or external use (ie. end of year reports, company functions, website, social promotion, reception loop etc)
Principal Sponsors are businesses, individuals, institutions or organisations who commit to donating $500k and above p/a for a minimum term of three years for which they receive sponsorship benefits in return, as outlined in Sponsorship Benefits Matrix.