Every day around Australia, Orange Sky volunteers pull out our six orange chairs on shift and sit down for a chat with friends. Many people visit shift out of necessity to wash their clothes or have a warm shower, while others simple come along to connect with their community.
Genuine and non-judgemental conversations are at the core of what we do, and while sometimes we get into the serious stuff, most of the time it's just every day people talking about every day stuff (and of course, some friendly banter!).
Stories from Shift
Meet Salin, one of our regular friends who has been visiting our bright orange van for about 3-4 years.
Salin works a few shifts here and there unloading shipping containers, however income can become unreliable when the days are quiet and there is no work to be done. Orange Sky has been able to support Salin by providing access to free laundry and shower services, as well as the opportunity for connection.
"I am homeless at the moment and sometimes I don't have enough money to use the laundry facilities. Orange Sky helps me, I bring my washing here maybe every two weeks. After a shift I feel good, not just because of the washing, but it's also because I talk to the team who's here and they are friendly. I live by myself and I don't have too many close friends, my family is back in my country, Afghanistan."
In the times where Salin faces loneliness and unemployment, he knows that there will always be a group of welcoming people at his regular Dovetown shift ready for a laugh and a long chat.
Meet Kate, a Gold Coast Orange Sky volunteer with a big heart and a love for passionate connection. Kate began volunteering in 2020 right in the middle of the pandemic, after seeing a need and desire for connection, both within herself and the people around her.
After a few shifts, Kate began to understand why our regular services are so important and the unique responsibility she has as a volunteer to serve the Gold Coast community.
"You don't know what everyone's going through or what they're facing, outside of work or walking past them in the street. Sometimes all someone needs is a conversation and it makes their day immediately better, and that puts them in a better head space for better things to come their way."
Friendships are born in many ways, and this is just one example of how our bright orange van fostered a bond like no other.
81 year old, Erich was born in Plankstadt, Germany and immigrated to Australia in 1963. Upon arriving, he started his career in steelworks - and didn't speak a word of English!
Erich doesn't have access to a reliable washing machine, and loves the conversation and connection he has on shift - so he's a regular here at Queanbeyan. Erich has recently built a friendship with another friend of Orange Sky, Tony.
The pair have connected on our six orange chairs, and now enjoy a sauerkraut lunch every Sunday together after shift. Whilst Erich's English isn't his mother tongue, it is the genuine connection that brings Tony, Erich and the Orange Sky volunteer team together every week.