Orange Sky volunteer Imogen Shepherd who helps out with Northern Rivers area.
Orange Sky volunteer Imogen Shepherd who helps out with Northern Rivers area.

COVID-19 put charity in a spin, now it needs volunteers

ORANGE SKY desperately needs volunteers on the Northern Rivers after losing 50 per cent its volunteers across organisation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The charity launched its Northern Rivers van Don earlier this year, but COVID-19 meant they had to temporarily halt services and figure out the next steps.

Orange Sky provides laundry and shower services for those that don't have access to either.

As the charity starts to resume its service to help the homeless, co-founder Nic Marchesi said it needed volunteers to help out more than ever.

"I think a lot of people have had their lives disrupted with COVID-19 but also for a time we weren't running shifts, we put our services on hold."

"Prior to COVID-19 and in the last few years we've had around 2,000 volunteers around Australia and New Zealand and at the moment, we're sitting about a thousand," he said.

In a time of social distancing and prevalent sanitisation, Orange Sky changed its operating procedures to ensure it is safe for volunteers to work.

"We had to build a new way of Orange Sky operating … we implemented controls to keep our community safe, so controls like hand sanitisation, social distancing and we looked at our cleaning and there was a lot of technology around that and once we were confident those controls were going to operate safely, we started putting our shifts back," Mr Marchesi said.

Orange Sky looks to connect people experiencing homelessness through free laundry, warm showers and genuine conversations.

Mr Marchesi said the benefits extended beyond the homeless community but also to the volunteers who lend a hand.

"Our volunteers are from all walks of life and our volunteers aren't alone in being lonely or isolated or wanting human connection, the benefit of being a volunteer … is you're part of a community that wants to connect."

To volunteer visit www.orangesky.org.au/volunteer


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