A man named Theo Smith who’s been living in a tent in Woolloomooloo park for the past year has been able to make some few alteration and enhancements over his home with a solar generator and panel to run a 32-inch TV, a kettle, and a small fridge-freezer.
But the struggle he has is the washing of his clothes, since he doesn’t have a washing machine. He normally has to spend around $50 of his pension to pay for his laundry or line-up at a local men’s hostel for a free laundry. “If you’re not (at the hostel) early, you miss out,” the 55-year-old said. “The other alternative is the laundromat but it costs a lot. I fill those stripey bags and it’s between $40 or $50.”
Brisbane friends Lucas Patchett (left) and Nicholas Marchesi are helping the homeless wash their clothes in a van fitted out with a washing machine and dryer.Photo: Brendan Esposito
Last Friday, a free mobile laundry for the homeless of Sydney named Orange Sky was launched in order to help those who cannot afford to pay for laundromat to wash their clothes. According to the 21 year old co-founders, it will change how these homeless look at themselves as this will provide not just clean clothes to wear, but also honor, high morale, and self-confidence.
Nicholas Marchesi and Lucas Patchett who are childhood friends from Brisbane, have founded this free mobile laundry for homeless since last year, setting up a generator, water tanks, and two large industrial washing machines with dryer to an old van named Sudsy, driving down the streets of Brisbane for a free wash of clothes.
Theo Smith washes his clothes in the back of the van for free.Photo: Brendan Esposito
Since the day the Orange Sky laundry service was founded, it has reached to Victoria and now New South Wales, with $100,000 in funding from The Good Guys and the state government. In order for the van to be mobilized, the cost is about $80,000 for the fittings and for gasoline and water needed for the machine to run. The laundry itself is being done purely by volunteers who work with other charity for the homeless like food trucks.
Homeless man Pete de Graaf welcomes the opportunity to regularly wash his clothes for free.Photo: Brendan Esposit
According to Mr. Marchesi, they are receiving heartwarming and astounding responses from the homeless community
“It takes about an hour to wash and dry their possessions but that hour is a really awesome opportunity to have a conversation.” There are not less than 350 homeless people, and there are more who are staying in crisis accommodation in the City of Sydney, according to statistics.
One of the first customers of Orange Sky Laundry was Peter Graaf, 53 years old, who has been spending about six years living in the street after he lost his job as kitchen hand.
“It’s been about a week since I last did some laundry,” he said. “I’ve almost run out of clean clothes so I’m kind of glad. Clean clothes are really important when you’ve got things to do.”