22 Dec 2018

Mobile laundry van delivering dignity to homeless

6:14 pm on 22 December 2018

A mobile laundry and shower service for rough sleepers in Auckland is being hailed as a success just three months after it started up.

Orange Sky's Eddie Uini.

Orange Sky's Eddie Uini. Photo: rnz / Eva Corlett

The charity Orange Sky runs its services from a single van across the city.

It's now washing more than 600kg of laundry and giving about 60 people a shower every week.

The specially-kitted out van contains two 10kg commercial washing machines and two driers, as well as a custom-built, private shower in the back.

The service provides detergent and soaps and has its own water and grey water tanks.

And there are benefits to sitting and talking with people, while they wait for their clothes, Orange Sky's Eddie Uini said.

"When you walk around the city, you know faces."

"To see it transferring to smiles, when people come out of the shower, there's nothing like that in terms of dignity and respect."

The charity originally sprung up in Australia.

Mr Uini brought it over in October when he realised there were no shower and laundry services for Auckland's homeless.

Already it's helping more people a week than the Brisbane van, which has been running for four years.

"It's really exceeded our expectations," he said.

"It's sad to see the need that there is for our service, but happy to see that we can help in some way."

One man regularly using the service is Thomas.

Orange Sky's mobile shower.

Orange Sky's mobile shower. Photo: rnz / Eva Corlett

He has lived under a bridge in central Auckland for about five years, with no access to power or water.

"It helps having this place to help us through the day. Without them it would be a struggle."

Having a shower and clean clothes and blankets makes a huge difference in his day to day life.

"I've got problems walking around, because I have bruises all over my legs and pins and needles. Having a hot shower helps."

The Ministry for Housing and Urban development is footing the $60,000 ongoing costs, while the charitable trust Hugo paid for the $200,000 dollar van.

About 40 volunteers have been trained up to take shifts and another 20 are on the waitlist.

The charity is looking for more volunteers and further funding to buy another van and expand the service.

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