BY: SINEAD MULHERN
Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi (both 20 years old as of October) felt that not enough was being done about Brisbane’s homelessness problem. So they came up with an incredibly innovative idea. They set up washing machines in their van to create a portable laundromat to wash clothes for those in need. This is the idea that they are calling Orange Sky Laundry Project.
According to a Huffington Post article, they started with the van and a generator. Then, they collected donations to buy two washers and dryers. Their mobile laundromat can process up to 20kg of laundry each hour. This gives homeless people the opportunity to improve their hygiene to kickstart an effort to get off the streets.
Orange Sky Laundry Project started in July. Then, they had one van and were making rounds across Brisbane (the city has 300 people living on the streets, says Huffington Post) on a trial period. Laundering became available to homeless people five days of the week. Part of what gives the project fuel to keep going is the donations given by those interested in their cause. It takes $6 to help someone wash one load of laundry, says Orange Sky’s site.
They say that the set-up is supposed to fall in step with other services for those who live without shelter. The washing hours are 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., mimicking the times that local food services are open.
As for the name, they explain that on their website. “The song, Orange Sky by Alexi Murdoch has been a major inspiration behind this project. ‘In your love, my salvation lies’ and ‘I had a dream I stood beneath an orange sky, with my brother standing by’ are lyrics from the song,” says their page. They say that the message is about helping brothers and sisters—a key component of what they aim to do.
This is a relatively new project; Patchett and Marchesi have bigger plans going forward. They have created one laundromat on wheels and while they want to sustain that, they hope to grow. The plan is to have multiple vans that do the same thing and instead of keeping it local to Brisbane, they want to take the service all across Australia to do more for those combatting the struggles of poverty. They have already put the call out for volunteers to help. The duo also hopes to partner with food trucks as a way to meet more needs of the less fortunate. While the laundry is in the wash, they can settle down for a meal.
For now the rumble of the machines fills the streets of Brisbane as clothes and suds slosh around in circular motion. This duo is proving that sparking change doesn’t depend on your age, bank balance or level of experience.