By Emilie Ng
FRIENDS Nicholas Marchesi and Lucas Patchett have trouble washing their own clothes, but over the next three months they will become experts at washing clothes for Brisbane’s homeless.
The high school friends formerly from St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace, Mr Marchesi and Mr Patchett spent many hours working with Brisbane’s homeless as part of the college’s community outreaches around the city.
Two years ago, the pair volunteered with Eddie’s Van, and while eager to set up their own food van, were challenged to find “something different” to help the homeless.
Discovering what 300 people living in parks, under bridges, on the streets or in abandoned buildings needed was right before Mr Marchesi’s eyes.
“I work around the city and I was constantly seeing clothes being left in parks,” Mr Marchesi said.
“There’s a shortage of clothes, so then we looked at, and asked how we can increase that shortage.
“One way was looking at storing the clothes better, but also maintaining the clothes, keeping them fresh.”
What began as an observation quickly turned into a business plan, and in July the two schoolmates launched Australia’s first free mobile laundry service, Orange Sky Laundry.
Orange Sky Laundry operates on three principals, to raise health standards among the homeless, to reduce strain on resources and to restore respect for Brisbane’s homeless.
The co-founders “hit the road” for their first trial run last week, and will continue in a trial period at 41 different parks in conjuction with homeless food vans for the next three months.
Mr Marchesi and Mr Patchett said their idea was simple, but possibly a world-first, having found no other organisations providing free laundry service for the homeless.
“It’s a bit of a weird idea, but maybe people think there are facilities out there already, but there’s not really,” Mr Patchett said.
According to Orange Sky Laundry’s team research, the average person does eight to ten cycles of washing a week.
“To wash one person’s clothes is $6, to be in one location is $60, and a week is $600,” Mr Marchesi said.
But Orange Sky Laundry will provide free laundry service washing clothes for approximately 10 people per hour, beginning with Brisbane’s homeless, and sights on a national business model.
“We think that this van will be a great success, and potentially, we’re going to have to wash more clothes,” he said.
Mr Marchesi said Orange Sky Laundry was a service that would “improve the level of hygiene for the homeless” because it was “a right” for all people.
“We live our lives by a golden rule, treat others the way you want to be treated,” he said.
“That probably goes back in a religious sense to the Bible, but in an everyday way, we are constantly looking on ways we can treat other people the way that we would like to be treated.
“That pushes through the whole thing we’re doing.
“The homeless have a right to feel clean, a right to fresh clean clothes.”
Mr Patchett said besides washing clothes, cleaning bedding was another “invaluable” service they would offer.
“During winter especially there’s a lot of bedding that gets built up,” Mr Patchett said.
Eventually the two young men want to supply the homeless with a fresh set of clothes, and have already received 200 sets of jeans and boxes from a local clothing company.
“Over time we want to build a wardrobe for these homeless,” Mr Marchesi said.
Visit Orange Sky Laundry’s official website www.orangeskylaundry.com.au.