Published: 24 August 2016

Mobile shower van for homeless hits Brisbane streets thanks to Orange Sky pair

More Info: http://www.orangeskylaundry.com.au/ Click Here

Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett were honoured as 2016 Young Australians of the Year for their efforts - which have now spread nationwide - to help Brisbane's homeless.

Known collectively as Orange Sky, they turned on the shower tap for the first time this morning, having built the van from scratch thanks to $100,000 from the Shine On Foundation and $50,000 from Queensland Urban Utilities.

It means homeless people in Brisbane now have access to a free hot shower every day.

The van is being rolled out alongside Orange Sky's free laundry van, which was stationed in Ivory Street, Fortitude Valley this morning.

"Twenty-two months ago we had a crazy idea to put two washing machines and two dryers in a van and wash and dry clothes for free," Mr Marchesi said.

"So we then had an even crazier idea of putting two showers in the back of a van. We have water tanks on board, we have heating on board, we also collect our grey water."

Mr Marchesi said while some charities offered showers at their drop-in centres, they were always "chockers".

"We want to complement the amazing work they are doing with a portable service," he said.
 
There was no stopping Dave 'Bushie' Brum from trialling the free shower yesterday. 

"It was awesome. It is so great to have a real shower," he said. 

Mr Brum, 60, has been living on the streets in Brisbane for more than 20 years. 

He calls himself the swagman and said it was not uncommon for him to go unwashed for more than a week. 

"I walk everywhere and I often feel dirty. I can smell myself," he said. 

Sometimes he even used a fire hose at a local real estate agency to wash himself down.

He said he would not be doing that anymore.

"They are awesome fellas to do this. It is like heaven being clean — it's amazing," Mr Brum said.

The Brisbane-born duo now has 11 laundry vans working across Australia and hope to expand the shower concept if the trial proves successful.

Orange Sky washes 7.2 tonnes of laundry each week with the help of more than 600 volunteers.

"It costs us $6 to wash and dry someone's clothes and it will cost us the same to give someone a shower," Mr Marchesi said.

He said the mobile shower van was challenging because they had to find a cheap way to keep the water hot.

They discovered a way to use the thermal heat from the van's engine.

The pair are about to take their laundry concept overseas, with a rollout planned for the US next year.

"Our dream is really basic: to treat people how they want to be treated and to connect them in the community," Mr Marchesi said.

"Everyone deserves the basic human right of having clean clothes and being clean themselves."

St James College students have enjoyed volunteering with the Orange Sky van previously.