Call for Macarthur volunteers to help with homelessness charity Orange Sky

Happy to help: Ligia Learmonth is one of Orange Sky's passionate volunteers in Campbelltown. Picture: Orange Sky
Happy to help: Ligia Learmonth is one of Orange Sky's passionate volunteers in Campbelltown. Picture: Orange Sky

Plenty of people donate blankets, warm clothes and food to help the most vulnerable people in our communities.

But what we often taken for granted is the ability to shower and wash our clothes - something that people experiencing homelessness often don't get to do.

That's where charity organisation Orange Sky comes in.

The selfless team of volunteers in the Western Sydney division travel with mobile shower/washing vehicle 'Busby' to stops across the region - including Campbelltown - and help provide people living in rough circumstances with a sense of dignity.

Liverpool's Ligia Learmonth is one of Orange Sky's Campbelltown volunteers.

She joined the organisation in 2018, and has been helping out ever since.

"We operate in Campbelltown and various other places with in a hybrid van, which has two washing machines, two drying machines and a show," Ms Learmonth said.

"We're able to offer those services to those in need.

"We pair up with other community organisations to do a food service as well, so they can have a meal and a conversation while their washing is being done."

Ms Learmonth said sometimes the people she encountered could go all week without having a conversation with another person, and are in dire need of some human connection.

Busby

Busby

"Every time I'm out on shift, it makes me feel really good knowing these people actually genuinely need our help," she said.

"It's something we can take for granted, having clean clothes and a shower.

"Providing two hours of time a week or fortnight is nothing in comparison to offering people the dignity they deserve, some clean clothes and a connection.

"I see people who've gone the whole week without human interaction, and if they do have a conversation or interaction, sadly, it's normally negative.

"So we try to turn up and give them what they really need and have a laugh and a fun time."

Ms Learmonth said people often underestimated just how many people were sleeping rough in the region.

"South-west Sydney has quite a lot of need, and it's been increasing," she said.

"I've been volunteering with Orange Sky for a year and a half and I've only noticed an increase in need.

"A lot of people in our community are sleeping rough, are in between motel accommodation, are sleeping on the street, are in between friends' houses, or may be sleeping in their cars, if they have one.

"Many of these people have been victims of violence, family violence, may have addition issues or several other vulnerable circumstances."

Ms Learmont says Orange Sky is a great service not just for what it offers, but also because it isn't tied to any particular religious belief and is open to people - both volunteers and those requiring help - of all kinds.

The organisation is in urgent need of new volunteers, seeing a drop of 50 per cent amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

"It's a really innovative form of social justice," she said.

"I'd never heard of another organisation that provides this service.

"People aren't aware of how prevalent homelessness is - it's not just sleeping on the sleep, there are so many circumstances where people don't have stable housing and it's a difficult and convoluted system when it comes to government housing. It's not as easy as some people think it is to find a safe place to sleep."

For more information about how you can volunteer with Orange Sky, visit orangesky.org.au/volunteer.

This story Call for Macarthur volunteers to help with homelessness charity Orange Sky first appeared on Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser.