Brisbane’s homeless population is one of our city’s best-hidden secrets. According to statistics from the Lord Mayor’s office, there are 2070 people identified as homeless dotted all over the city; people in safe-houses, rehabilitation centres and shelters. Approximately 300 of these people sleep rough in parks, laneways, abandoned buildings and car parks each night.
Orange Sky Laundry (OSL) is a new initiative aimed at helping these street-sleepers; run by university students Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi in the very heart of Brisbane. While the homeless have benefited from free food vans for a number of years, OSL is Australia’s first mobile laundry service, offering free washing and drying services.
The name ‘Orange Sky’ comes from the song of the same name by Alexi Murdoch. The song’s message centres on helping out our brothers and sisters, and inspired both Lucas and Nic to do exactly that. After working with homeless people while at school, the two twenty year olds identified a niche market and started their project.
Although the organisation has six board members, including an accountant, social worker and human resource manager, OSL’s service van is run by a group of volunteers, aged 18-30, 100 per cent of the time. Situated mostly around the City, Fortitude Valley and Bowen Hills (or, essentially, where the food vans are located), volunteers operate the van 5am-9am, three days a week. You can generally find them washing up to four or five loads in an hour.
Co-founder Lucas, has said that lending a helping hand is worth the sometimes challenging and confronting nature that comes with working with the homeless. He hopes that in five years, OSL is in every major Australia city that requires the service. The long-term goal, however, is that homelessness is eradicated.
A not-for-profit and volunteer organisation, OSL gratefully accepts any assistance offered, so check out its website and volunteer or donate to this wonderful, Brissy-based iniative!
Orange Sky Laundry