Fresh, clean laundry is one of the most comforting things in life, but unfortunately not everyone has access to it. A couple of engineering students from Brisbane are trying to change that. They’ve started Orange Sky Laundry – Australia’s first mobile laundry service for the homeless.
20-year-old Lucas Patchett and his friend Nicholas Marchesi were inspired to start the service during an overseas trip. When they got back in July, they decided to stop talking about it and just do it. So they got an old van fitted out with two donated industrial washing machines and two dryers, which can wash and dry 20 kilograms of laundry in an hour.
Getting the machines to fit in the van wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, but they managed it pretty well. “The architect who helped us said: ‘they’ll probably fit’, but we found we needed to build a platform above the wheel arches – it wasn’t very scientific but we ended up banging the wheel arches out a bit and taking some panels off. We squeezed them in,” said Lucas.
“We’re trying to link in with some of the morning BBQs and food vans offered by different groups around the city each day,” said Lucas. He admitted that it has been kind of difficult to set up a schedule with the homeless, because most of them are kind of hesitant at first. But once they warm up to the guys, they seem to appreciate the service quite a bit. Lucas said that he enjoys being able to sit and chat with interesting people as their clothes are being washed. “I was chatting with a guy the other day who used to be a chemical engineer. It’s just a very grounding experience to see how quickly things can go wrong for people.”