Vanguard Laundry Services (VLS) is a social enterprise commercial laundry creating employment opportunities for people previously excluded from the workforce, predominately due to mental health conditions.

The laundry also has an in-house Career Development Centre to support disadvantaged jobseekers into sustainable career opportunities with local employers, and provide training and career development.

VLS is an innovative enterprise launched by the Toowoomba Clubhouse based in Toowoomba, Queensland. It builds on the success of Ability Enterprises, one of SVA Social Impact Fund’s most successful investments where employees received skilled training and qualifications, entered stable employment, and reported improved mental health.

The laundry business is underpinned by a long-term contract with St Vincent’s Health and contracts with other Toowoomba businesses. The capacity building grant from SVA enabled VLS to employ a laundry consultant who worked closely alongside SVA to take the laundry from an idea to a reality. SVA also provided strategic and commercial advice, brokered pro-bono legal support, recruitment assistance and support to realise this business opportunity.

Financial close was achieved in June 2016 and the laundry started operations in December 2016. To date, the laundry has hired 23 long term unemployed people with a mental health condition and provided 10 people with career development pathway support.

Luke Terry, an experienced entrepreneur, had a vision to open a commercial laundry social enterprise in Toowoomba, Queensland. He saw the business as an opportunity to support the local community by employing people with mental health issues. SVA gave Luke strategic and commercial advice about the feasibility of the business.

‘We chose SVA for their depth of understanding in innovative finance models and commitment to social impact. We are pleased that we made the right decision – SVA were instrumental in helping get the $6 million project off the ground.’

Luke Terry, CEO, Vanguard Laundry Services

This video captures the official opening by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Vanguard Laundry Services in January 2017.

Vanguard Laundry services by Flashpoint Labs from Flashpoint Labs on Vimeo.

 

Case study

‘I love being able to say in a conversation that I’ve been at work!’

Megan had been unemployed for 16 years. Severe depression and a personality disorder took effect as she was working a full-time job whilst trying to also complete university. Megan then endured a series of abusive relationships that left her caring for her three kids as a single mum. Financial troubles also took their toll as Megan battled to make ends meet.

‘I don’t see how I would have a job right now without Vanguard, who else would employ someone that hasn’t worked in 16 years?’

Megan is proving an extremely diligent and committed worker at Vanguard. She will soon partake in nationally recognised First Aid and CPR training to allow her to be a first aid officer for all staff.

Through Vanguard’s Vstart career development centre and connection to local employers, Megan hopes to explore her interest in digital marketing.

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