Ever felt like a clean change of clothes might just be enough to get you through another day?
It doesn't sound like much but for those sleeping rough or in other situations of difficulty, something as simple as having clean clothes can help to just take the edge off whatever hardship they're battling.
This is where not-for-profit organisation Orange Sky Australia comes in.
It was started in 2014 by friends Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett who conceived and created the world's first free mobile laundry service for people experiencing homelessness.
The two began with a couple of washing machines and dryers in the back of their old van which they used to visit parks around Brisbane, washing and drying clothes for free.
In the ensuing eight years they've grown to an operation that spans the country plus locations in New Zealand with more than 40 assets in operation across 26 locations.
They have more than 2600 volunteers in Australia working through about 300 different service locations every week, doing upwards of 1700 loads of washing per week.
Orange Sky has been operating across the Mid North Coast for the past five years and has recently taken possession of four laundry pods, each consisting of two washers, two clothes dryers and six orange chairs. Replacing the mobile service van that travelled down from Port Macquarie, the pods are now permanent fixtures in Taree, Wingham, Laurieton and Kempsey.
t's really about people from all walks of life coming together, having non-judgemental conversation and really just having an opportunity to connect- Orange Sky co-founder, Lucas Patchett
Though the pods represent a substantial equipment upgrade, according to co-founder, Lucas Patchett, what is needed now are more volunteers.
"We're looking for volunteers to come on board, particularly in Taree and Wingham," Lucas said.
"They don't have to be washing experts, just need a bit of time and be willing to give back to the local community."
Someone who knows all about volunteering for Orange Sky is Mid Coast resident, Jules Radley.
Jules joined the team two years ago when, following her retirement, she found some extra time on her hands and wanted to give back to the community in some way.
While she sees the benefits the laundry service has for those who utilise it, Jules says it is obvious how supportive it is simply to provide a place to sit and talk while their washing is being done.
"Some people will come and they'll just leave their washing and go and do their shopping. It depends on individual circumstances, but other people sometimes need to vent about what's happening in their lives," Jules said. "Their frustrations or the crisis that they're in, and we will just sit there and listen.
"If we feel they would benefit from referral to other services, we will sort of let them know where they can receive help."
This reflects one of the main aims of the project, as described by Lucas Patchett.
"Obviously the really tangible impacts of washing - we also provide showers in some spaces - but they're really just magnets to draw people in and our mission is to positively connect communities," Lucas said.
"So it's really about people from all walks of life coming together, having non-judgemental conversation and really just having an opportunity to connect.
"Disconnection and loneliness is something that impacts on everyone, not just people who are experiencing homelessness, and that's one of the key spaces where we want to help people.
"A need we all have is to be a part of a community and that's really where it starts. Washing and showers are tangible, but beyond that it's about connection and conversation and friendship."
Orange Sky's laundry services can be accessed at Taree Manning Uniting Church, Wingham Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Kempsey Neighbourhood Centre, and Laurieton United Services Club.
If you would like to volunteer for Orange Sky Australia you can do so by following following the link below; orangesky.org.au/volunteer
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