Charity Orange Sky kicks off their month-long Sudsy Challenge tomorrow, challenging participants to wear the same clothes for three days in a row to draw attention to homelessness.
Orange Sky, which provides a free mobile laundry service for people experiencing homelessness, started in 2014 with just one van named ‘Sudsy’ that was installed with a couple of washing machines and dryers.
The organisation now operates 31 different services around Australia, and has also expanded to offer free shower services.
The Sudsy Challenge, which gets its name from that first Orange Sky van, encourages participants to wear the same clothes for three days and use that outfit to start conversations about Australians experiencing homelessness, as well as to raise funds for Orange Sky’s services.
The Challenge is held across four weekends, with the first one running from September 3 to 5 and the final weekend running from October 2 to 4.
Orange Sky co-founder Nic Marchesi said The Sudsy Challenge was created to start meaningful conversations about homelessness in the community.
“We always talk about the power of a conversation and I just really encourage people during this time to continue to have those conversations,” Mr Marchesi said.
“We can continue to get people aware of the massive issue that is in our own backyard and really encourage people to participate,” he said.
Mr Marchesi said is was easy for anyone to get involved with The Sudsy Challenge.
“You don’t need to be a millionaire to support Orange Sky,” he said.
“You can start conversations and keep The Sudsy Challenge going.”
“I encourage people to keep the conversations going and find ways to connect with people out in our community.”
QBE Insurance Group is the official partner for the first weekend of the challenge.
The company’s interim Chief Customer Officer, Eleanor Debelle, said QBE had had 115 employees sign up this year to take part in the challenge.
“At QBE we want to use The Sudsy Challenge as an initiative to help people learn more about the great work Orange Sky does,” Ms Debelle said.
“It’s so special and unique, and makes such a big difference to people’s lives,” she said.
“With a better understanding of homelessness and how it happens, we can start to problem solve.”
Brisbane Orange Sky volunteer Ollie Wightman said Australians had an unrealistic view of homelessness.
“What we see typically is the kind of old guy in a movie, but homelessness has many forms,” Mr Wightman said.
“Most Australians don’t have a very good understanding of what that actually looks like,” he said.
However, Mr Wightman said The Sudsy Challenge was a good way to help change perceptions.
“The Sudsy Challenge is not just for our friends on the street, but also to begin the conversation starter to promote Orange Sky and the concept of homelessness more broadly,” he said.
“Changing a set of clothes is something we do without thinking about it at home.”
“We don’t think about what that would mean for some people to have to just stick to the same clothes all the time or have an opportunity for a warm shower.”
Melbourne Orange Sky volunteer Steve Black said the challenge was an ideal way to showcase the good work Orange Sky do.
“There is a massive problem of homelessness in Australia and this is one way, personally, for me to tell that to my wider network,” Mr Black said.
“To see the stress that COVID-19 is putting on the community, and the flow on of that, I think it is very important that the message Orange Sky delivers needs to be given out to the community,” he said.
Mr Black said he would encourage everyone to participate in The Sudsy Challenge.
For more information, to donate or to take part, visit The Sudsy Challenge website.