The holiday season is a special time of year when families and friends gather to connect, reflect and look ahead to the future. For many, the holiday season provides a much-needed opportunity to pause and appreciate the simple pleasures of life. However amid the twinkling lights and joyful festivities are stories of disconnect and isolation experienced by our friends doing it tough. 

Their stories are unique, but often too common – especially over the holiday period. There’s no good time of year to be experiencing homelessness, but it’s particularly rough when you see other people celebrating and having family holidays – and you’re not even safe or comfortable. 

We can’t solve homelessness alone, but we know that a place for connection and a listening ear can make the world of difference for someone doing it tough. 

Orange Sky is a non-profit that provides a simple, yet essential service that supports people who are experiencing homelessness or hardship through access to free laundry, warm showers and most importantly genuine, non-judgemental conversation. Our focus is on creating a safe, positive and supportive environment for people doing it tough, helping to ease their sense of isolation and disconnection from the community. 

From sitting down on our orange chairs and chatting with friends, we’ve learnt that access to clean laundry services is what commonly brings people to Orange Sky – but connection is what makes this a life-changing service.

Our main aim at this time of year is to operate as consistently as possible, providing our friends with a trusted, reliable place for free laundry and shower services. But even more importantly, a friendly yarn will be there when they need it most. Orange Sky won’t pack away our orange chairs for the holiday period, and with your support, our volunteers can be there for our friends – just like Cass.

Cass was a working mum looking after two kids when she was diagnosed with cancer. The side effects of her treatment made her incredibly sick. She couldn’t work, and when she was late with paperwork, her Centrelink benefits were stopped. Cass couldn’t afford her rent any more. Cass was “absolutely devastated” when she had to send her kids to live with their dad – so they’d have a home. She moved into her tiny hatchback car.

The holiday season can be hard for our friends, because it reminds them of things they may lack – like family, safety, and the comfort of home. That’s how Cass felt last year.

“It’s really hard to be in my car alone. It hurts. The hardest thing is not being with my kids. Last Christmas, I didn’t even get to speak to my children.”

Cass is just one of the 122,494* people experiencing homelessness – up from 116,000 in 2016. The Census provides a snapshot of Australia in August 2021 – but the reality of the past 18 months indicates the rates of homelessness may be even higher now.

Connection is important all year round, but is heightened over this important holiday period. We all deserve this very basic human right. You and Orange Sky can make a difference.

We’ll be there when people need us– but we really need your support to keep our services running and volunteers ready to connect. Any support you can give to our holiday appeal would assist Orange Sky in offering a reliable service that provides our friends with a place to feel welcome over the holidays.

* That’s the number of Australians experiencing homelessness last Census night. It’s probably even higher now. (ABS Estimating Homelessness, 2023)

Help provide connection these holidays for people like Cass. Make a donation today.

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