Siloam Mission could soon be home to the city’s first laundry service operated by people experiencing homelessness, in an effort to help them rebuild their lives by earning a wage.
The social enterprise facility would allow employees to be paid and receive workplace training, in hopes of providing them with enough help to re-enter the workforce.
“This is a fundamental piece in trying to teach people the skills, whether they are honing skills or right from the ground up,” said Jim Bell, CEO of Siloam Mission. “We hope that this is going to be a key piece in helping people transition and progress along the way.”
While re-integration for people who are experiencing homelessness is key, Bell believes providing them with resources to make their own income is crucial.
“That whole dignity piece, that whole self-esteem piece is a key part of the mix. The job training is a key piece, along with getting people housed, not just giving people the keys and a job, but allowing for the other supports as well,” said Bell.
The plan is to initially hire at least three or four people who will work under supervision, and then when everything is in place, to slowly expand the business.
“Hopefully, sooner than a year, is we hope to go outside and be able to do laundry for third parties, whether they be other non-profits or other businesses in the community,” he said.
While the laundry service is the first social enterprise for Siloam Mission, it won’t be the last, according to Bell.
“This social enterprise is just a start where we will look at other social enterprise endeavours as we go down this path,” he said.
The laundry service will begin by catering to the needs of the mission, including cleaning the bedding and other in-house clothing materials.
The laundromat, which is close to hitting its funding goal of $256,000, will provide people with the opportunity to experience working in the real world again.
The Winnipeg Foundation has put forward most of the funding, a total of $200,000 to renovate and build space in the Logan Avenue building from which the laundry service will operate.
The shelter is seeking an additional $56,000 to buy the necessary laundry equipment like commercial dryers and washers. If all the funding comes into play as expected, the laundromat could be open as early as October.