New research shines a light on homelessness in New Zealand

Every day across New Zealand, Orange Sky volunteers have conversations on our six orange chairs that support people doing it tough. We recently commissioned a YouGov study to help shine a light on the challenges faced by Kiwis today, which revealed that a growing number of New Zealanders are struggling to make ends meet. So, let’s talk about it…

More than 41,000 Kiwis were experiencing homelessness at the time of the 2018 Census, but new research has exposed the vulnerability of many New Zealanders in 2021 and growing number of people who are doing it tough. More than one in five (21%) Kiwis have personally experienced homelessness, while 19% know someone who has. Worryingly, half (51%) of New Zealanders say they struggle to make ends meet at least once a year, with one in five (20%) struggling to make ends meet each and every week.

This past year has been particularly challenging, with the pandemic impacting mental health and economic hardships across New Zealand. More than half (51%) of the population struggled to pay their bills, with 15 per cent admitting they’ve had to forgo meals to make rental payments. Despite this, nearly one in four (23%) say they have felt too ashamed to ask for help.

Orange Sky supports people who find themselves doing it tough by providing a safe and welcoming place on shift to sit down and connect. Homelessness is a complex issue, and while we don’t have all the answers, we aim to positively connect people through free laundry, warm showers and genuine conversation. From many years sitting around our orange chairs on shift, we’ve learnt just how easily a simple conversation can impact a person’s life.

We know that for many, homelessness can happen in the blink of an eye; in the past year, one in five (18%) Kiwis say they have felt isolated from their community.

There’s never been a more important time to support Kiwis doing it tough. For the first time this year, we’ve launched The Sudsy Challenge in New Zealand – an initiative that aims to wash away the stigmas surrounding homelessness by challenging people to wear the same clothes for three days, talk about homelessness and raise funds and awareness for Orange Sky.

Get involved by joining hundreds of other Kiwis embarking on the first New Zealand Sudsy Challenge!

Sign Up for The Sudsy Challenge

New Zealand Operations Manager, Eddie Uini, said that while clean clothes can make a world of difference to someone’s life, it’s the hours of conversation and genuine connections made with Orange Sky friends that make the biggest impact.

“Orange Sky has given me the opportunity to not only help people doing it tough by providing essential services, but also allowed me to connect and support them on a more genuine level,” said Eddie.

“The Sudsy Challenge is a fun and easy way for Kiwis to step out of their comfort zone and support those in the community who are experiencing homelessness. Through conversation and raising awareness, we have an opportunity to support our friends doing it tough.”

Participants can take part in The 2021 Sudsy Challenge over one of three weekends in September, or any three days in September, October and November.

Are you ready to take on the challenge?

Sign Up for Sudsy

PRINCIPAL PARTNER

Supported By


One Year Since Pausing Shifts in New Zealand

A lot has happened since my journey with Orange Sky began almost three years ago. Growing up, I never thought that I would be so excited for my days to be filled with washing clothes (as I’m sure my poor mum could attest to!). Every day, I have something to look forward to, but still some days can be quite challenging…

This week marks 12 months since we pressed pause on both of our services in Auckland and Wellington due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It almost felt surreal; two and a half years of being out on the streets, seven days a week, building relationships and trust with our friends was seemingly undone by an invisible enemy in such a short space of time.

I’ve always been passionate about helping others and very aware of people doing it tough in my own community. That’s what drove me to help launch Orange Sky’s first ever laundry and shower van in New Zealand. I grew up in Manurewa, South Auckland, where a lot of people sleep rough on the streets and struggle to find stability and assurance in their life. Many don’t know where they’ll sleep at night or when the next opportunity for a shower or to wash their clothes will be.

That desire to help out our friends and ensure that everyone has a place to connect has fuelled Orange Sky’s recovery in a COVID-19 world. It’s hard to grapple with the idea of friends not being able to bring their washing to shift, volunteers not having a way to give their time, and supporters not being able to see their impact in the community. The second we paused shifts, we knew we needed to innovate and find ways to help our friends.

One year on, our service might not look the same as it did pre-COVID, but that unwavering commitment to support our community remains unchanged. From that very first shift back just four weeks after pausing our services, we’re now operating 24 shifts a week across New Zealand – more than we were before the pandemic. Just last week, we recorded the highest number of washes that we’ve ever done in a week at 153. This is a testament to not only the hard work of our volunteers, but support from our amazing community.

On shift in Auckland this week, I had the chance to catch up with Terry; a long-time friend who previously used our services. I’m so thankful to share that during the pandemic, Terry was able to find accommodation and have a safe place to sleep at night, but I’m also just as thankful that we now have the opportunity to sit down on orange chairs on shift and catch up on life, just like we always have.

The decision to pause services will go down as one of the toughest times in our history, but it’s moments like this on shift when I’m reminded of exactly why Orange Sky exists.

We believe everyone deserves access to basic hygiene, as well as a place to feel welcome, included and connected. If you’d like to support Orange Sky and the work we do, you can do so in a number of ways. We’d love if you could watch and share our video below, consider making a donation to Orange Sky or sign up to become a volunteer.

Help us ensure that everyone has access to basic hygiene

Donate Today

PRINCIPAL PARTNER

Supported By


Orange Sky's first international van

In early 2018 in our Brisbane headquarters, we had a crazy idea to launch Orange Sky’s first international van on 10 October 2018 – exactly four years on from our first ever wash in Australia. We knew that homelessness had become a growing challenge in New Zealand and hoped that we could take some of our learnings from Australia and connect some of the 41,000 people we heard were doing it tough.

The road to launch as not a straight line and we needed a lot of help along the way. Legal loopholes, funding agreements, finding a ship, building the van, finding volunteers – it was what we were used to but everything was just that bit different, enough to second guess why we were doing this in the first place. Luckily enough we had local expertise and a growth mindset that allowed us to apply learnings and collaborate and feel confident our learnings from Australia were going to be transferable.

I first met Eddie when he came to Brisbane for our vehicle leaders summit in late August 2018. I had already heard a lot about him from Jo and Emma (our CEO and CFO at the time) and had a good feeling about him. Eddie is gentle, passionate, strong and his passion for helping our friends in New Zealand is beyond parallel.

I knew that we had made the right decision when he stood up in front of 30 relative strangers, shared a story (and a tear) and showed how vulnerable and meaningful he could be in talking to people about his future at Orange Sky and his vision for the future.

In early 2018 in our Brisbane headquarters, we had a crazy idea to launch Orange Sky’s first international van on 10 October 2018 – exactly four years on from our first ever wash in Australia. We knew that homelessness had become a growing challenge in New Zealand and hoped that we could take some of our learnings from Australia and connect some of the 41,000 people we heard were doing it tough.

The road to launch as not a straight line and we needed a lot of help along the way. Legal loopholes, funding agreements, finding a ship, building the van, finding volunteers – it was what we were used to but everything was just that bit different, enough to second guess why we were doing this in the first place. Luckily enough we had local expertise and a growth mindset that allowed us to apply learnings and collaborate and feel confident our learnings from Australia were going to be transferable.

I first met Eddie when he came to Brisbane for our vehicle leaders summit in late August 2018. I had already heard a lot about him from Jo and Emma (our CEO and CFO at the time) and had a good feeling about him. Eddie is gentle, passionate, strong and his passion for helping our friends in New Zealand is beyond parallel.

I knew that we had made the right decision when he stood up in front of 30 relative strangers, shared a story (and a tear) and showed how vulnerable and meaningful he could be in talking to people about his future at Orange Sky and his vision for the future.

We now have two vans (Auckland and Wellington) and I have had a chance to visit a few times over the last two years. I will always remembered that first wash we did in Auckland and it has helped me continue my passion for helping people whether that is in Australia, New Zealand and…who knows where next.

What I know is that people all over the world are struggling with human connection and hygiene. Orange Sky has a blueprint that can really support people who are struggling. Nic and I never want to stop helping people and we will always make it a priority to find new ways to support as many people as possible.

Support our friends doing it tough

Donate today

PRINCIPAL PARTNER

Supported By


COVID-19 Updates

The COVID-19 pandemic means that Orange Sky is operating in a world where things are changing daily, but what remains the same is the commitment of our team to continue innovating and supporting our friends on the street.

Orange Sky continues to be agile in our response to the pandemic across Auckland and Wellington. In these challenging times, we ask for your trust and support as we face this ever-changing environment.

Our mission to positively connect communities is as important as ever right now; we remain focused on ensuring we can deliver our service to friends and volunteers in safe environments.

Please feel free to contact our team on the details listed, should you be requiring any further information that is not covered below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Orange Sky is classified as an essential service in New Zealand, meaning we can continue to operate. Decision making around continuing or pausing a shift is based on a set of key principles and the current advice made available by the New Zealand Government. 

Yes, Orange Sky is considered an essential service as part of New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and recovery. Alongside other housing and social support providers, we play a critical role in supporting some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable individuals and whānau to stay connected during this difficult time. It is a priority for us to continue supporting our friends and provide our service to those who rely on us.

Shift operations are assessed against the current advice made available by the New Zealand Government and against our current risk framework including:

  1. Duty of care: based upon current information acting in the best interests to safeguard our staff, volunteers, friends, service providers and the wider community;
  2. Maintaining community trust: delivering a service that has a low/acceptable risk to ensure the safety of our community is upheld where possible.

Our team works as quickly and transparently as possible with localised teams as soon as new information around lockdowns becomes available. Where possible, we work hard to ensure that shifts keep operating to ensure we can support our friends doing it tough.

 

The Orange Sky Operations Team communicates with Local Leadership Teams, Team Leaders and Service Providers, who will then communicate to all volunteers via the group chat as soon as possible about whether a shift will be operating. 

 

For our friends, the best way to find out whether a shift will be operating or not, is via our find a shift page, which shows whether shifts are proceeding or have been cancelled. Click here to view.

The best place for the most up-to-date information on whether shifts are operating is via the find a shift page. The ‘latest updates’ section below also provides the most recent COVID-19 information for our services in Auckland and Wellington.

Orange Sky will pause services in a lockdown if we deem (according to our risk framework) it is not safe to proceed or additional consideration is needed. 

 

Generally, Orange Sky shifts are delivered in collaboration with another service provider (offering food, health care and other essential needs) – this is a key component of our operating model. If another service provider partner is pausing operation, this will result in us temporarily pausing a shift for safety reasons, or we may consider alternative ways to operate that still meet our high safety standards. 

 

Where possible, we strive to ensure our shifts aren’t impacted and do what we can to continue to operate with the approved COVID-19 safety controls in place to support our friends. 

Unlike many other service providers, Orange Sky operates a minimum two hour shift where multiple people are stationary in a location for an extended period of time. Whilst we are very confident in our COVID-19 Management Plan, we do need to take extra precautions that other more ‘rapid’ service delivery models may not.

Orange Sky has put in place a COVID-19 Management Plan in line with public health measures issued by the Ministry of Health to create the safest environment possible with the changing circumstances. The safety measures within this plan are outlined below. We ask for all individuals who attend shift to adhere to the health authorities advice.

Keeping the community safe is one of Orange Sky’s highest priorities and we take this seriously as an organisation. We have created a COVID-19 Management Plan consisting of multiple controls to support keeping the community safe. While several of these will be in place for the foreseeable future, other control measures are activated based on the current risk levels. 

The controls consist of the following: 

  1. Social distancing (2m) and encouraging others to do so as well.
  2. Masks are available in the vans and must be worn at all times whilst on shift when mandated by the relevant state authority. 
  3. If volunteers are sick, they aren’t to come to shift.
  4. Hand hygiene is promoted throughout the shift including washing hands regularly with soap and water and/or using the hand sanitiser in the van. 
  5. Increased cleaning during and at the end of shift including touchpoints, orange chairs, tables, door handles, washing baskets etc.
  6. The use of PPE including disposable gloves, masks, and safety glasses.
  7. A cordon designed to help control the flow of people to ensure we can continue to socially distance safely.
  8. If you have a smartphone please check-in via the QR Code at shift (Wellington only)

We are continuously monitoring the situation and will communicate any further changes in our operations promptly. 

Some shifts will have QR code checks in available, while others will utilise the Orange Sky shift report to capture volunteers and friends attending shifts on that day. It is important we are able to track this information and provide it to relevant authorities if required. Having accurate data from shift is an additional control in reducing the spread of the virus.

Generally, leaving home and travelling outside the lockdown radius to attend essential work or volunteer has been acceptable. We recommend that you refer to the New Zealand Government website regarding the latest updates on travel restrictions that may impact on your attendance at shift.

Throughout COVID-19 multi-layered controls (cordons, social distancing, masks etc) have been put in place to support keeping the community safe. Some of these controls remain and some have changed depending on the current state of the community. We regularly monitor and review to determine whether these controls suffice according to the latest advice from health regulators. 

 

The COVID-19 vaccination is another control that is now available to the public at no cost. The vaccine will help to contribute to the safety of our volunteers, friends, staff and wider community.

 

As health advice continues to evolve, our recommendation continues to be to listen to the public health authority advice and make informed decisions on how best to proceed. Should this change, we will communicate promptly with our volunteer community.

If you’re currently experiencing homelessness, support is available. The Ministry Of Housing and Urban Development has pulled together a list of relevant resources.

 

The Ministry of Health’s website is the key place to go for information about precautions to take while on shift and at home. There is also a central portal for all information on COVID-19. Healthline has a dedicated COVID-19 number for the public to access – 0800 358 5453. It’s free to call and available 24/7.  

 

Another resource is Āwhina, which is an anonymous website that connects people in need with everything from housing, a meal, financial help, domestic violence support, counselling and more, with thousands of services around the country.

 

You can also visit Lifeline, who can provide information and advice about managing your mental health during the pandemic, or find a health professional for you to speak to.

Orange Sky recognise the importance of collaborative partnerships and wrap-around services to support people experiencing homelessness and to those who are most vulnerable in our community. There are many service providers who act as third party community service outreach providers alongside an Orange Sky shift.

The majority of our shifts operate on shared grounds and we manage relevant permits, risk factors and other requirements with local governments and service providers when establishing these shifts, for Orange Sky services only.

Should you wish to operate alongside us, you can refer to our locations tab on the Orange Sky website to see where we operate, and then please get in touch via info@orangesky.org.nz for further information regarding next steps.

If you’re feeling unwell, please make sure you stay home and get tested. Please notify your Team Leader as soon as possible if you are unable to attend a shift.

To keep our community safe, we would appreciate it if you don’t utilise the service whilst unwell or showing COVID-19 related symptoms. We understand this is a hard time for many. Doing what we can to minimise the spread of the virus will ensure that our orange vans can continue to show up each week to deliver free laundry, warm showers and genuine conversation. 

If you have any further questions, please get in touch with via our contact us page or by phoning +64 9 887 0566 during business hours. 

Friends accessing our services

To all of our wonderful friends who use our service; we are thinking of you at this extremely difficult time. To find out if there is a shift near you, click the find a shift button below to access our updated shift location page. We hope to see you all on our orange chairs really soon.

FIND A SHIFT

Service providers

If you are a service provider, please keep us updated of any changes to your service provision or environment that may have consequences for us partnering with you at your location in the future.

Contact Us

Latest Updates

Kia Ora Whanau,

It’s been just over three weeks since we made the tough decision to pause our services during Alert Level 4 lockdown. With the entire country (except Auckland) now at Alert Level 2, it’s been great to see all of our Wellington shifts back up and running this week. For anyone looking to use our services in Wellington, please keep an eye on our schedule as some shift times may vary by an hour or so to accomodate new meal times of the service providers we’re working alongside. We hope to have the majority of our Auckland shifts online again once Alert Level 3 is announced. As soon as we know a shift is going ahead, we’ll update the schedule. If you have any further questions on this please get in touch via our contact us page here.

Take Care,
Orange Sky team.

Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak in New Zealand, Auckland and Wellington are currently under mandatory, level 4 restrictions. Although Orange Sky remains an essential service, we’ve made the difficult decision to pause all shifts across Auckland and Wellington. We will take this time to ensure that we can support shifts operating in a safe environment for our friends, volunteers and the greater community. Our thoughts go out to everyone who has been impacted by the recent COVID-19 outbreak – especially our friends doing it tough. We hope to be back out there operating again soon. If you have any further questions on this please get in touch via our contact us page here.

If you’d like more information, please click the link below to get in touch.

Contact Us

Socials

Follow our socials for up to date information on how Orange Sky is responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as some positive news stories about our community

Ways to Support

Donate funds to help Orange Sky continue to deliver our mission and support our friends doing it tough.

Donate Now

PRINCIPAL PARTNER

Supported By


COVID - 19 Response

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect families, communities and countries around the world, Orange Sky has been monitoring how best to support the health, safety and well being of our friends, volunteers, supporters and staff.

Orange Sky has a strong and embedded health and safety culture, and we will do all we can to avoid risks that could negatively impact the people in our community. We are currently implementing a measured approach to support as many of our shifts to stay in operation as we can. We will notify of any changes to shifts as required and provide as frequent updates as possible through our channels.

Important information:

1. Orange Sky Headquarters closure:

As COVID-19 continues to challenge our communities, Orange Sky’s leadership team has made the decision to close high risk environments such as HQ for the next 14 days, requesting staff to work from home until Monday, 30 March. We will update our community if any of this information changes.


2. Orange Sky shift delivery:

Volunteers:

If you are a volunteer, we’d encourage you to work with your local teams to assess your shift situation and determine the level of risk for your attendance.

Service providers:

If you are a service provider, please communicate any changes to your service provision or environment that may have consequences for us partnering with you at your location by completing this form

Friends accessing our services:

If you are looking to access our services real time information will be available via our website as to whether services have been cancelled . You can find this at orangesky.org.au/locations


3. Recommended source of information:

For further, specific information on COVID-19, please visit the Ministry of Health’s website or phone Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number on 0800 358 5453.

A special shout out to our friends doing it tough, who might have limited access to services during this difficult time. Stay safe everyone, and please take care of yourselves and each other.

Many thanks,
Orange Sky Australia

PRINCIPAL PARTNER

Supported By


Eddie's Orange Sky Family

I don’t think I will ever be able to fully understand what it’s like to experience homelessness. After hundreds of hours of conversations with our friends on the street, I have never heard the same story twice.

Much of my time is spent trying to tell stories that paint a clear picture of what it feels like to do it tough. Our friends are so gracious with their time and have built up a level of trust in Orange Sky through our amazing volunteers – it is a very good place to be as a storyteller.

The words of our friends give me a good indication of the real service we are providing to people doing it tough. Is it laundry? Or showers? Or connection? Or is it something bigger, more life changing? I might need a few more years until I have all the answers, but I feel like I got pretty close during the four days spent on shift with the amazing Uini family in Auckland.

Family is something that I have heard spoken about each time I visit Orange Sky shifts in New Zealand. Our friends talk about complex relationships that occur within families. In some cases, these relationships are a huge form of support; but when negative circumstances arise, they can be at the root cause of experiences of homelessness.

Which brings me to Eddie, the Uini family and Orange Sky New Zealand. Eddie’s story is very well known across New Zealand. In one sentence for the ‘un-uini-ightened’ (see what I did there), Eddie started Orange Sky’s free mobile laundry and shower service in New Zealand (supported by the team in Australia).

Eddie is the eldest of five children, with a Samoan father and a mother with a mixed heritage from Germany and the United Kingdom. The family all live together in the outer suburbs of Auckland. It is a bustling hub of excitement and at all times of the day, people are coming and going, eating together and supporting each other through words of encouragement (and, when needed, a few sharp words for the young ‘uns).

It came as no surprise to the family when Eddie started Orange Sky New Zealand. Eddie is a compassionate and gentle person who has spent the first 30 years of his life mentoring and looking after his siblings and anyone else he comes across who needs help. I can vouch for an amazing Uini hug when I am feeling a little overwhelmed!

Lesina (28), Elsie (26), Isacc (21) and Nathan (19) are the lucky siblings of Eddie and really admire the big man’s passion for helping other people. Of course, when Eddie asked if they would volunteer for Orange Sky, they said yes…but they were not sure what to expect, or even how they felt about the issue of homelessness.

I had the opportunity to sit down with each of Eddie’s siblings and talk about their experience. They all spoke genuinely and candidly about their perceptions of people experiencing homelessness before volunteering for Orange Sky. They had learnt to see people who were ‘down on their luck’ or living on the street as someone else’s problem. There was no motivation to stop, acknowledge the person and maybe even have a chat. This was caused by a mix of fear, not wanting to offer money and not knowing what would come next if they took the simple step of saying hello.

Nathan was very open of his view of people doing it tough.

“I would have walked with my nose at a higher angle and walked past instead of looking and talking with them. [Volunteering] has completely changed my views on homelessness. Playing cards, doing washing, having such a great conversation. It barely feels like I am actually going out to do some voluntary work, it’s like going out and having a game of cards with your mates, only you have a lot of mates now. It just grounds you and humbles you to know all these people at heart.”

All of the siblings have taken to volunteering like ducks to water. They were very open about the fact they probably wouldn’t have made the decision to volunteer if not influenced by Eddie, but now feel strange if they miss a shift and miss their friends.

Elsie puts it best when she says:

“It is so weird that I am actually volunteering for Orange Sky when you think about it. I stay right away from touching my siblings washing and sometimes avoid conversation as I feel like my conversation isn’t interesting enough. But I jumped, and I did it and I couldn’t imagine my life without it.”

It takes a lot of courage to be open about you past perceptions and admit to negative stereotypes that influenced your behaviour. But the Uini family want to act as a beacon of hope, an example for their community to believe in the power of acknowledgement, conversation and connection for our friends doing it tough.

It was so cool to hear Elsie close her discussion with this very point. Something that I have never heard before, but a powerful reminder of an aspirational existence where everyone feels connected to a community.

“I would really like for Orange Sky not to be such an anomaly and just an everyday thing for everyone to be out here doing everything they can for their fellow Kiwis.

Beyond that I guess, I hope and dream that Orange sky won’t be such a miracle for people and something that is available to everyone.”

The Uini family are united in their support of our friends

Learn More

PRINCIPAL PARTNER

Supported By


Common Cold, Flu and Coronavirus Update

Flu season can be a particularly hard time of the year for our friends. While we continue to offer free laundry, warm showers and great conversation out on shift, we wanted to take the opportunity to keep you informed with recommended preventions you can take to protect yourself this flu season.

These suggestions are useful to help limit the spread of germs found in the common cold, flu and widely publicised Covid-19 (Coronavirus) currently in the headlines. We don’t want to create alarm, rather we want to ensure that you – our volunteers – are kept informed and can make sensible decisions around your health this flu season.

While we intend for our services to continue operating, if you do feel sick please stay at home and inform your Team Leader. Resting up and consulting your GP is advised.


Tips to help limit the spread of germs

• Remember to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds prior to commencing work or volunteering, after sneezing and coughing, going to the bathroom, or after touching objects that may have been in contact with people exhibiting flu-like symptoms;

• Use hand sanitiser available on shift;

• Wear gloves while on shift and handling any washing or cleaning items.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick;

• If you feel sick, please stay at home, rest up and visit your GP;

• Know the signs of a flu – fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath; and
Be mindful of physical contact with people displaying flu-like symptoms – consider replacing handshakes with the Orange Sky approved fist bump!

• If you have been in, departed from, or transited through mainland China, Iran or South Korea in the last 14 days, you should:
Self isolate yourself from others for 14 days from the day you departed China, Iran or South Korea. Feel free to roster yourself back on shift at the conclusion of your 14-day self-isolation period; and
Monitor yourself for symptoms.


For further, specific information on Coronavirus, please read through the link below from the Ministry of Health’s website. You can also phone Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number on 0800 358 5453 for any other guidance as well.
https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus

Stay safe this flu season, please do not panic, look out for yourselves and each other and if you have any questions, please contact your Service or Team Leader for guidance and advice.

PRINCIPAL PARTNER

Supported By


Eddie's Orange Sky Family

Eddie's Orange Sky Family


I don’t think I will ever be able to obtain a full understanding of what it is like to experience homelessness.

After hundreds of hours of interviews with our friends on the street I have never heard the same story twice. 

Much of my time is spent thinking about stories that paint a clear picture of what it feels like to do it tough in our communities. Our friends are so gracious with their time and have built up a level of trust through our amazing volunteers, it is a very good place to be as a storyteller.

The words from our friends give me a very good indication of the real Orange Sky service and we are really providing to people doing it tough. Is it connection, is it a service or…is it something bigger, more life changing? I might have a few more years until I get all those answers but feel like I got pretty close with my four days on shift with the amazing Uini’s in Auckland.

Family is something that I have heard spoken about each time I visit shifts in New Zealand. Our friends talk complex relationships that occur with families. In some cases a huge form of support but also when negative circumstances arise something that can be at the root cause of experiences of homelessness.

Which brings me to Eddie, The Uini’s and Orange Sky New Zealand. Eddie’s story is very well known across New Zealand and in one sentence for the un-uini-ightened (see what I did there), he started the free mobile laundry and shower service in Zealand supported be the host country of Australia.

Eddie is the eldest of five children and has a Samoan father and Mother with a mixed heritage from Germany and the United Kingdom. The family all live together in a big house on the outer suburbs of Auckland. It is a bustling hub of excitement and at all times of the day people are coming and going, eating together and supporting each other through words of encouragement (and, when needed, a few sharp words for the younguns).

Elisi (27), Lesina (24), Isacc (21) and Nathan (19) – I have to check those ages – are the lucky siblings of Eddie and adore the big man’s passion for helping other people. Of course when Eddie asked for them to help through volunteering they said yes…but they were definitely not sure of what to expect or even how they felt about homelessness.

Which brings me to Eddie, The Uini’s and Orange Sky New Zealand. Eddie’s story is very well known across New Zealand and in one sentence for the un-uini-ightened (see what I did there), he started the free mobile laundry and shower service in Zealand supported be the host country of Australia.

Eddie is the eldest of five children and has a Samoan father and Mother with a mixed heritage from Germany and the United Kingdom. The family all live together in a big house on the outer suburbs of Auckland. It is a bustling hub of excitement and at all times of the day people are coming and going, eating together and supporting each other through words of encouragement (and, when needed, a few sharp words for the younguns).

Elisi (27), Lesina (24), Isacc (21) and Nathan (19) – I have to check those ages – are the lucky siblings of Eddie and adore the big man’s passion for helping other people. Of course when Eddie asked for them to help through volunteering they said yes…but they were definitely not sure of what to expect or even how they felt about homelessness.

I had the opportunity to sit down with each one of Eddie’s siblings and talk about their experience. They all spoke genuinely and candidly about their perceptions of people experiencing homelessness before volunteering for Orange Sky. They had learnt to see people in the street down on their luck with view that it was someone else’s problems. People they would see in the street or on their way to University did not have an identity and there was no motivation to stop, acknowledge and maybe even have a chat. A bit of a mix of fear, not wanting to offer money and not knowing what would come next if they took the simple step to say hello.

Nathan was very open of his view of people doing it tough:

…i would have…walked with my nose at a higher angle and walked past instead of looking and talking with them…it (volunteering) has completely changed my views on homelessness…playing cards, doing washing having such a great conversation it barely feels like i am actually going out to some voluntary work, it’s like going out and having a game of cards with your mates, only you have a lot of mates now. It just grounds you and humbles you to know all these people at heart.”

All of the siblings have taken to volunteering like ducks to water. They were very open about not making this decision if not influenced by Eddie but now feel strange if they miss a shift and miss their friends.

Elisi puts it best when she says:

“It is so weird that I am actually volunteering for Orange Sky when you think about it. I stay right away from…touching my siblings washing…and avoid conversation as I feel like my conversation isn’t interesting enough, but i jumped, and did it and I couldn’t imagine my life without it.”

It takes a lot of courage to be open about you past perceptions and admit to negative stereotypes that influenced your behavior. But the Uini family want to act as a beacon of hope for everyone in the community to believe in the power of acknowledgement, conversation and connection for our friends doing it tough.

It was so cool to hear Elise close her discussion with this very point. Something that I have never heard before but a powerful reminder of an aspirational existence where everyone feels connected to a community.

“I would really like for Orange Sky not to be such an anomaly and just an everyday thing for everyone to be out here doing everything they can for their fellow Kiwis.

Beyond that I guess, hope and dream OS that Orange sky wont be such a miracle for people and something that is available to everyone”

I just realised that in this whole story I have not referenced the impact on our friends, the power of Orange Sky’s service or the outcomes that our friends receive. But, maybe they are one and the same for the people that take time out of their lives to volunteer. To feel connected to something bigger than themselves, to be part of a genuine community and to have amazing conversations!

Elisi puts it best when she says:

“It is so weird that I am actually volunteering for Orange Sky when you think about it. I stay right away from…touching my siblings washing…and avoid conversation as I feel like my conversation isn’t interesting enough, but i jumped, and did it and I couldn’t imagine my life without it.”

It takes a lot of courage to be open about you past perceptions and admit to negative stereotypes that influenced your behavior. But the Uini family want to act as a beacon of hope for everyone in the community to believe in the power of acknowledgement, conversation and connection for our friends doing it tough.

It was so cool to hear Elise close her discussion with this very point. Something that I have never heard before but a powerful reminder of an aspirational existence where everyone feels connected to a community.

“I would really like for Orange Sky not to be such an anomaly and just an everyday thing for everyone to be out here doing everything they can for their fellow Kiwis.

Beyond that I guess, hope and dream OS that Orange sky wont be such a miracle for people and something that is available to everyone”

I just realised that in this whole story I have not referenced the impact on our friends, the power of Orange Sky’s service or the outcomes that our friends receive. But, maybe they are one and the same for the people that take time out of their lives to volunteer. To feel connected to something bigger than themselves, to be part of a genuine community and to have amazing conversations!

 Orange Sky New Zealand • ©2018 • Privacy Policy  • We’re hiringGet our emails • +64 9 887 0566

AUSTRALIA | NEW ZEALAND | UNITED STATES


Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!