Kat Doughty, Orange Sky. Photo: Hamish Bidwell

Clean, dry, folded washing is something many of us take for granted.

But, as Orange Sky Aotearoa senior impact manager Kat Doughty knows, that’s not the reality for an increasing number of New Zealanders.

Orange Sky began in Brisbane, where two 20-year-old mates decided to put washing machines and dryers in a van, to bring some comfort and dignity to the local homeless population. By 2018, the non-profit organisation had spread its wings to New Zealand and, come August, will have a Hawke’s Bay presence at six locations across Hastings, Flaxmere and Napier.

Doughty’s seen firsthand just what the free service does for people in need. “It’s about upholding the mana of that person and giving them back some dignity. There hasn’t been a lot of kindness in the lives of some of these people,’’ Doughty told BayBuzz.

Orange Sky runs two types of van. One is for the laundry and the other has shower facilities. Hawke’s Bay is getting the laundry van for starters.

The service is well ensconced in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington, with Doughty travelling to Hawke’s Bay last August at the request of local service providers to assess the need for Orange Sky.

Having established the service was required, the challenge then was to ensure Orange Sky could deliver what had been asked for. “The first questions we ask ourselves are, are we going to be able to fund this? And are we going to be able to find the volunteers?’’ said Doughty.

The laundry van costs roughly $100,000 to fit out and the shower version $160,000. Then you need about 50 volunteers to run the service, which is stationed at existing providers such as the Camberley Community Centre.

“We don’t have any government funding, so it’s all philanthropic, individual givers, donors and people on the street like yourself that might donate $20 to our service,’’ Doughty said.

“And it’s not a cheap service to run. Whenever we launch a service we always make sure we’ve got at least two years of funding.’’

Doughty says the Eastern Bay Community Foundation, Hastings District Council, the Frimley Foundation and Simplicity Foundation each helped make Orange Sky’s Hawke’s Bay operation a reality.

Simply providing a service isn’t enough. You also have to give people the confidence to come and use it. “There’s always a bit of whakama [embarrassment] around it, which is why it’s important to run it alongside places like Camberley Community Centre where they’ll run it in conjunction with their Nourish for Nil service,’’ said Doughty. “It has to be a place that the community knows and that they trust and that helps remove some of that shame.’’

Having the laundry service doing shifts at places such as the Camberley Community Centre, also provides safety for the volunteers that do the washing, drying and folding, says Doughty.

She and the Orange Sky team see the reality of the deprivation in New Zealand, which Doughty believes is only worsening. “You can walk down the street and sometimes you can see cars that have laundry or their worldly possessions and we know that’s a family living in a car, whereas some people might not see that. I think we’re maybe more open to seeing what’s there,’’ Doughty said. “We can see what’s under trees and bushes and that’s somebody’s home.

“One of the most heartbreaking things I’ve seen was a young girl who showed me her home and it was a tent. That was her home and that’s all she’s known. That’s tough. “I’m one of those people that’s going to do something about it. I can’t walk past that stuff every day and not do something about it.’’

If you’d like to do something about that, you can register as an Orange Sky volunteer via their website: https://orangesky.org.nz/volunteer/

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air


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1 Comment

  1. I love the concept and have a regular monthly donation set up. It’s the least I can do. Warm welcome to Hawke’s Bay.

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