Demand doubled for Orange Sky services

Everyone deserves access to basic hygiene.

With 41,600 Kiwis not knowing where they will sleep tonight, and many not having access to a shower or laundry services demand for Orange Sky services has doubled.

And, it needs more volunteers.

Orange Sky, offers a mobile laundry and hot shower service working on the streets and in particular it asking Wellingtonians to volunteer some of their time.

Eddie Uini​, who leads New Zealand’s branch of Orange Sky, says unlike Auckland, which is inundated with volunteers, the opposite is true of Wellington.

Finding volunteers in the capital is one of the charity’s challenges.

“We’d welcome people with open arms,” says Orange Sky’s Wellington team leader Debs Burson. “Every day when the van is not used is a sad day.”

“The day when our vans aren’t needed, I’ll celebrate more than anyone but there is a need in both Auckland and Wellington.”

Unemployment has risen to 151,000 last September – 37,000 more than in the previous quarter. That was the biggest quarterly increase since 1986.

Food parcels are needed now more than ever.

Since the pandemic, there has also been an increase in single-income families using the charity to help reduce living costs, says Uini.

Orange Sky’s distinctive orange-painted mobile laundry van is a self-contained unit. It has two washing machines, two dryers and a shower. It also has its own power, water and waste systems.

The charity’s services are free of charge and open for anyone in need.

Orange Sky helps people experiencing homelessness or those who for various reasons don’t have or can’t afford hot water or a washing machine.

Burson​ can’t speak highly enough of her involvement with the mobile laundry service.

It’s a family affair, she says. Her husband is the vehicle co-ordinator and her 12-year-old daughter is the youngest person on the Wellington team.

“We’ve been part of Orange Sky since its launch – it’s amazing, we love it.”

“A lot of people who come to my shift are families and there’s always kids running around. It’s an incredible community. We really feel part of it.”

Another volunteer comments: “You build trust and build friendships because everyone is consistently there every Friday. You’re there for the highs and lows, and to celebrate the successes.”

Wellington service leader Cathy Knowsley​ said the demand for its service had been consistent.

There were about 25 volunteers and the van did about 30 to 40 loads of washing a week.

“We currently have six shifts, and we’d love to have more, and reach more of the region,” Knowsley said.

In the capital, the van visits the Compassion Soup Kitchen in Te Aro, Wellington City Mission in Newtown, Raukawa Community Centre in Strathmore Park and Linden Community Centre in Tawa.



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