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Friday, January 22, 2021

Orange Sky in need of volunteers to help the homeless

A local homelessness charity is calling for more volunteers as it struggles for numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Orange Sky was set up in 2014 to alleviate some of the hardships faced by the homeless by providing laundry services, showers, and conversation to those in need. 

The charity received commendation from former US President Barack Obama last summer, featuring in the Obama Foundation’s 2019 ‘Year in Hope’. 

The Orange Sky vans provide laundry services and showers to those in need.

Homelessness is a particular problem in Newcastle, as it ranks as the 15th highest electorate in NSW for the number of homeless people. 

Newcastle Orange Sky spokesperson, Dianne Knight, said volunteers always left a shift feeling good about the connections they’d made.

“I had a family member who was volunteering at Orange Sky in Queensland when it first started and had a positive experience,” she said.

“I wanted to contribute, so I went to the orientation session and haven’t looked back.”

Orange Sky has seen a decline of 50% in volunteer numbers because of COVID-19, but is now hoping to build numbers back up. 

Ms Knight said the pandemic had a “huge impact” on those who attended regularly as they were once again forced to succumb to isolation due to the loss of services. 

“I do believe that homelessness is a hidden problem in the Newcastle community and area,” she said.

“There are also many people who feel quite isolated even in busy communities because they’re not engaged in employment and social activities.

“[Volunteering is] a very rewarding experience, [and] most shifts are two hours per week.”

For more information about volunteering, visit Orange Sky’s website