About Orange Sky Laundry
Orange Sky Laundry is Australia’s first mobile laundry service for the homeless. A world first, started in Brisbane by two 20-year-olds, the organisation’s custom-fitted vans have been servicing parks and drop-in centres across Australia and the wider community with industrial washers and dryers in each van. Orange Sky Laundry now has nine service locations across Australia.
Orange Sky Laundry has a vision to positively connect homeless friends with the community by raising health standards, restoring respect and reducing strain on resources. The co-founders of Orange Sky Laundry, Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi, are the 2016 Young Australians of the Year.
How did the partnership between Orange Sky Laundry and Ashurst begin?
Ian Humphreys, managing partner of Ashurst‘s Brisbane office, has known Lucas’s mother, Jo Westh, for many years and worked with her as a commercial client of the firm. Ian recalls that ‘Lucas and Nicholas were terrific young people looking to make a genuine difference, their enthusiasm was infectious and their idea was simple but terrific’. Ian was asked by Lucas and Nicholas to provide guidance on some legal points and, as Orange Sky laundry met Ashurst’s pro bono criteria and mission to assist marginalised and disadvantaged individuals, the firm was happy to assist.
In Ashurst’s initial meeting with Orange Sky Laundry, Lucas and Nicholas were impressed at the office views and free coffees available at Ashurst, while the Ashurst lawyers were impressed at the innovative idea of a free mobile laundry service for homeless people and the impact that it could make in the community.
Why did Ashurst decide to support Orange Sky Laundry?
Ashurst’s global pro bono practice supports marginalised and disadvantaged people of limited means, as well as not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises who assist these people. Orange Sky Laundry’s mission and purpose is all about assisting marginalised and disadvantaged people, who are the homeless friends they support. So Orange Sky Laundry was an obvious and perfect fit for the firm’s pro bono practice.
Ashurst was particularly impressed by the enthusiasm, innovative thinking and social media and technological savviness of Lucas and Nicholas, as well as the Orange Sky Laundry model, which not only delivered a tangible benefit to homeless friends through the washing of clothes, but also provided an extended opportunity for support as volunteers connect with them while their clothes are being washed.
How does Ashurst assist Orange Sky Laundry?
Ashurst provides pro bono assistance to Orange Sky Laundry across a wide range of areas, including in intellectual property, employment and corporate law areas. Lawyers from Ashurst’s Brisbane, Perth and Sydney offices have been involved. As Orange Sky Laundry is looking to expand overseas next year, Ashurst is working with them to consider how the firm’s international offices can get involved.
Ashurst’s people (including staff who are not lawyers) are also about to start volunteering washing clothes with Orange Sky Laundry. The firm is excited about the opportunity to volunteer with Orange Sky Laundry, and develop more holistic support for them.
How has the partnership benefited each organisation?
Ashurst is very proud of its association with Orange Sky Laundry, and the whole firm is very supportive of their mission. The partnership has provided an opportunity for Ashurst’s people to connect with Orange Sky Laundry and promote their mission, through both pro bono support and non-legal volunteering. The lawyers involved enjoy being able to utilise their professional expertise in a way that can support Orange Sky Laundry. The non-legal volunteering opportunity is a pathway for all of Ashurst’s people to support Orange Sky Laundry.
Orange Sky Laundry has told us that, most importantly, Ashurst’s support has helped ensure the long term sustainability of Orange Sky Laundry. Orange Sky Laundry has grown tremendously since its first wash on 10 October 2014, and its legal needs have increased with this growth. Ashurst’s support has helped to strengthen the whole organisation (from volunteers to board members) to ensure that Orange Sky Laundry can continue to be effective in its mission.
Advice to others?
A significant part of pro bono support is about building relationships. Ashurst has developed our relationship with Orange Sky Laundry by aiming to always be available, responsive and adaptive to their legal needs, by showing that the firm cares about what they do and whether they succeed, and by looking for opportunities to showcase the organisation internally and externally. Orange Sky Laundry made it clear that they wanted Ashurst to be more than mere legal advisers, and the firm feels very proud of the relationship it has built with this fantastic organisation and looks forward to developing further opportunities to work with Orange Sky Laundry in the future.
For more information about Orange Sky Laundry go to www.orangeskylaundry.com.au.