As many activities closed during the COVID lockdown, the laundry and shower service at junction 142 on Katoomba Street has exploded.
Services manager Stephen Bradley said demand for free services for the homeless and others in need is growing.
“Over the past year, monthly laundry use has increased sixfold and shower use has doubled.
“In total, there were over 1,400 uses of the laundry and almost 700 of the showers. We also provided over 1,000 packages of toiletries, clothing, bedding and food.
For comparison, there were 21 laundry users in July 2020, but in July 2021 there were 155.
Mr Bradley said the free shower and laundry service was essential as it is the only one in the mountains.
“People come for this and we can help them in other ways as well.”
The service operates from Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“The lockdown requirements involved strict protocols, especially when it comes to hygiene and social distancing. As the facility manager, I liaised with the local police… to ensure that the ‘establishment abides by foreclosure rules, ”he said.
The day the Gazette called, there were eight people waiting to use the facilities – including a man and his dog waiting for a shower. Mr. Bradley deep cleans the facility after each use and personally relies on emergency funding from Centrelink to survive.
“I hope the council will come back to the table,” he said, acknowledging that more permanent federal or state funds were needed.
The service was originally funded with revenue from the Junction 142 operations store and markets that ceased during the first lockdown. It has been maintained through volunteer work and three emergency grants from the Blue Mountains City Council. The last grant expired in June and Mr. Bradley has been volunteering ever since.
Cedar Takeaway in Katoomba donated disposable masks and gloves for service operations and for the personal use of clients.
John Cox, chairman of the Junction 142 committee, said they were determined to continue the service.
“The social and health benefits that the service provides are essential. Although we have been funded for specific maintenance work by generous donors, we are desperately underfunded. We are actively exploring various sources of funding that allow the project to continue. “
Ward 1 Cr Kerry Brown has asked council to help again with a grant that will fully fund the service for nine months.
Junction 142 has an annual budget for 24 hours a week for a manager / cleaner, plus electricity, water and supplies of $ 37,260. The council has $ 27,514 unallocated in its community assistance grants from the past fiscal year due to the shutdown of normal services by groups.
“I am proposing that we allocate the remaining funds from the last round of Community Aid Grants which were not distributed because so many community activities had ceased,” said Cr Brown.
“This will give Junction 142 time to seek long-term funding from state and federal governments and hopefully restore their revenue streams as well.”
She also wants council to write to elected Members of Parliament, Susan Templeman and Trish Doyle, on behalf of Junction 142, for assistance in securing continued government funding.
The service is also helping the homeless with clothing, bedding and food packages and has been liaising with a chemist to enable COVID-19 vaccinations.
Junction 142 also filed this month for a small funding from Bendigo Bank, Katoomba. The issue should be debated in city council on Tuesday. [October 26].