A place of solace for the homeless

A customised van service which provides free mobile laundry and showers for rough sleepers across Auckland now has 25 volunteers supporting the initiative.

Launched just last month, the van- nicknamed Hugo- has two washers, two driers and one shower.

Organisers say the response from volunteers and the homeless in the past month has been positive. 

Manager, Brand and Communications for Australian charity organisation Orange Sky, Ben Knight says, "We have seen large numbers attending shifts and sitting down in our orange chairs doing their washing, having showers and engaging in conversations with our volunteers.

The community at large have all been very welcoming and we have come across very few limitations or issues where we operate.  We are currently doing around 30 washes and 40 showers a week, which we expect to increase sharply once we have more volunteers."

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford says the service goes some way to bringing rough sleepers one of the simple things we take for granted. 

“While superficially the service is about clean clothes and showers, the main benefits are the social interactions, the conversations and the opportunity for social services to reach out to rough sleepers.  It continues to build our picture of homelessness and helps us shape the support systems we need on the ground,” says Twyford.

The co-founders of Orange Sky arrive in New Zealand next week and will head to as many shifts as possible to spend time with volunteers.

They will also speak at various events as well as meeting with stakeholders interested in supporting the initiative.