Orange Sky is calling on locals to step up and volunteer to run the charity’s mobile laundry and shower services for people experiencing homelessness in Canberra.
Operating in Canberra since April 2016, Orange Sky has done almost 6,000 loads of washing in the ACT and volunteers have racked up nearly 11,500 hours of conversation with ‘friends’ – the people who use the charity’s services.
Kevin Jones has been volunteering with Orange Sky for just over 12 months. He’s also the Canberra service coordinator for the charity.
Kevin says the need for volunteers stems from the fact COVID-19 saw a number of people stop their volunteer work after Orange Sky had to temporarily pause services earlier in the year. It’s also due to the charity looking to expand their services throughout the ACT to “wherever they see the need”.
He says volunteers typically spend a few hours per week or fortnight in the orange van, running the shifts and chatting to friends.
“The most important thing for volunteers [to know] is that the purpose of Orange Sky is to make connections with people and to offer the opportunity for honest, non-judgmental conversations,” Kevin says.
“Our friends are really appreciative of being able to access the laundry services. But many of them will sit down on our orange chairs for the hour and just enjoy having real conversations, because a number of our friends are quite isolated from the community.”
Kevin says it’s these “uplifting and inspiring” conversations that are the most rewarding for him, personally, which have helped to break down misconceptions about people experiencing homelessness.
“I’d say that [volunteers] don’t have to be an expert in operating a laundry, they just have to enjoy having a chat with someone, and enjoy working in a really engaging, positive team environment,” he says.
“I suppose I would say the friends we support are diverse, and therefore the volunteers represent a diverse group of people.”
For more information or to get involved, visit Orange Sky’s website.