A $100,000 COVID-19 Emergency Grant was given by the Freemason charity to the social enterprise commercial laundry so it can continue improving outcomes for people in the region with a lived experience of mental illness.
Since opening its doors, Vanguard Laundry Services has provided jobs and employment pathways for 80 people impacted by mental illness and has helped many of them successfully transition into mainstream work.
Low hotel occupancy as a result of COVID-19 has had a domino effect for Vanguard Laundry Services, with the social enterprise commercial laundry experiencing a reduction in client demand for its services from 52 tonnes of laundry per week to less than eight tonnes per week.
Vanguard Laundry Services Founder Luke Terry said the COVID-19 situation had significantly impacted the laundry’s bottom line, making it very difficult to keep employing people in need.
“The unrestricted COVID-19 Emergency Grant from Hand Heart Pocket will assist us in maintaining critical staff and helping preserve our business during this difficult period,” Terry said. “Having a mental illness or disability can be a huge barrier to being gainfully employed, but with the right support, we have been able to prove that it is possible to find meaningful employment and enjoy greater independence.
He continues: “Without the support of our key partners like Hand Heart Pocket, our sustainable business model would face a significant threat. We are so thankful for this hand up.”
Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the Freemason charity has provided almost $600,000 to date in COVID-19 Emergency Grants and is focused on assisting its existing charity partners and working with Freemason Lodges to increase support at a grassroots level during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“This COVID-19 Emergency Grant is in addition to the $277,500 Significant Grant provided to the laundry in November last year to allow it to take on larger clients and service new contracts, with a view to creating new jobs and an employment pathway for 30 people in the next 12 months,” Mark said.
He said hand Heart Pocket is committed to ensuring its existing charity partners can continue providing support to the community during this challenging time and achieve their planned outcomes over the long-term.
“Vanguard Laundry Services provides an important service for its region, and we are pleased to be able to lend this extra support to help the organisation continue to create employment pathways for people with mental illness,” he said.