Q&A: Kelley Oliver

According to a recent study, one in five Kiwis have personally experienced homelessness, however only 19% of people reported knowing someone in this situation.

A striking pair of statistics to put next to each other, but this does mean that it’s very likely you may have someone in your immediate circle in this situation that you don’t even know of!

One organisation taking proactive steps to close the gap between these figures and make a difference to the rate of homelessness in Wellington is not-for-profit, Orange Sky

Orange Sky is the world’s first free mobile laundry and shower service for people experiencing homelessness, which launched in Wellington in 2019 with a single can-do-van named “Hudson”.

We caught up with one of Orange Sky’s volunteers, Kelley Oliver.

Where do you work and what do you like about it?

I run a busy hair salon and online store with an amazing team. I also volunteer with Orange Sky which is an incredible organisation supporting people experiencing homelessness with free laundry services and warm showers. I go out on shift with Orange Sky at the City Mission in Newtown each Thursday morning and chat with people who are doing it tough, it puts so much into perspective for me.

What book is beside your bed?

What Happened To You – conversations on trauma, resilience & healing by Bruce D. Perry & Oprah Winfrey – amazing book which really articulates how trauma affects our lives and influences our behaviors.

Who’s your favourite famous Wellingtonian and why?

Fat Freddy’s Drop – love love love them – every time I play their tunes or see them play live my cup is filled.

What’s been your biggest challenge during lockdown?

I find it a challenge in lockdown that while I’m “stuck at home”, there are people in our community who don’t have a home and are missing the Orange Sky service. I’m looking forward to getting back on shift with Orange Sky and connecting with our friends again when we’re able to. I’m also taking part in The Sudsy Challenge, Orange Sky’s fundraising initiative that asks Kiwis to keep their kit on for three days, to spark a conversation around homelessness – knowing I’m still helping the community while I’m in lockdown is helping.

What’s something you’ve learned this year?

I did a 10-day Vipassana silent retreat recently and at times it was really physically and mentally uncomfortable, transferring that to lockdown and knowing that even when things are not ideal, they will pass is really helpful for me!

You just won lotto, what will you spend it on?

Ooh I love fantasising about this…. I would buy properties for all four of my kids, and then donate a MASSIVE chunk to Orange Sky to support the incredible work they are doing!

Read more Q&As here.


Sign up to our newsletter