Vanguard Laundry Services

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.

Venture mission

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.

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.

Goal of SVA partnership

SVA is working to help Vanguard to grow from an idea to a financially sustainable, high impact social enterprise within 10 years, with 500 FTE (1,000 jobs) and 5,000 lives positively affected.

SVA support

Case study - Empowering James with money and meaning

James* had applied for numerous jobs, but nobody would hire him. At one point he spent an entire year trying to get hired. When he finally did get a job, it didn’t work out because of the workplace’s perceptions around mental illness.

Today James has steady employment with Vanguard Laundry. It has improved his sense of self. Working in an environment that feels safe has made life just that little bit easier. He’s particularly pleased to be following in the footsteps of his father, who also used to work in a laundry.

‘I’m proud of Dad for doing what he did, I’m very proud to be able to work in a laundry too,’ he says.

Steady employment has made a real, positive impact on James life. He was able to save enough money to make a special trip to Sydney to see his
daughter for the first time. While he was nervous, it turned out to be a great weekend and his daughter said it was everything she wanted.

‘Working in the laundry suits me down to a tee!’ he says.


*The name of the employee has been changed to respect their privacy.