Written by Orange Sky Volunteer, Lara Miles
The past year has shown us that social connections are more important than ever.
I live in Canberra and we're currently in lockdown. While my experience hasn't been nearly as bad as that of people in other parts of Australia and around the world, I think this has been an important time for us all to reflect on what if feels like to be socially isolated and unable to access the things in our lives that bring us comfort and joy - whether that be our families, friends or the way we usually spend our time.
Sadly, this is something that many people in our communities experience and Orange Sky is a service that seeks to create positive connections and provide support over something as simple as laundry, a warm shower and a friendly chat. I think that's worth supporting.
Thankfully, our Canberra Orange Sky service has been able to continue to operate during lockdown. We build strong connections with our friends over time, so it's reassuring to be able to see them and know they are staying safe and well.
Whilst out on shift during this time, I've found that people are more eager than ever to make positive connections. Friends using the service or just people walking by are keen to stop for a chat or just exchange a friendly nod – all with the appropriate social distancing, of course!
This shows that during challenging times, people seek connection with others. It also shows how important the work of Orange Sky is, and the continuity of community services when people need them more than ever. I'm so glad Orange Sky is able to continue to be there for our friends in the community during this time.
I have been a volunteer with Orange Sky for the past two years and currently work as the Canberra Community Engagement Co-ordinator. Volunteering with Orange Sky has shown me that small actions can have a big impact.
Talking about the issue of homelessness is the first step towards change. We all have a part to play in raising awareness and supporting people doing it tough and The Sudsy Challenge is one simple way to do that.
After volunteering and working for Orange Sky, taking on The Sudsy Challenge was an obvious next step to up my support for this incredible organisation. I hope that by participating in The Sudsy Challenge I'm able to get at least one person in my life to reflect on what it would be like to experience homelessness in Australia today and how important it is to support anyone who does.
Just like having a chat with a friend on shift can brighten both their day and mine, wearing the same set of clothes for three days and speaking to people in my life about the issue of homelessness can prompt them to reflect on their own assumptions about people in our communities and what they can do to help.
COVID restrictions and lockdowns have added a new dimension to participating in The Sudsy Challenge – it means getting creative in how we connect with people during the challenge.
I've introduced the challenge into how I work from home. I've popped The Sudsy Challenge banner into my email signature block and don my bright orange shirt in my video meetings. It certainly is a conversation-starter and a great way to fill the small talk at the start of meetings.
Often the most intimidating part about approaching complex social issues is knowing where to start. The Sudsy Challenge is a simple first step – get talking and raise some funds. Together, we can help make a difference for people doing it tough in our communities.