Charity laundry for the homeless to open in Moscow

charitable laundry opens


A “cultural laundry” will open in Moscow at the start of October. During the day, they will wash the clothes of homeless people, and at night, the Vtoroe dykhanie foundation will do the same.

The Vtoroe dykhanie (Second Wind) foundation and the St Petersburg organisation Nochlezhka, which helps homeless people, are opening a joint project in Moscow, namely a charitable laundry. In the Cultural laundry, there will be eight washing machines and eight tumble dryers. In one day, they will be able to wash and dry things for up to 50 people.

“None of us like it, when there are unkempt people around in dirty clothes which smell bad. Homeless people don’t like it either. You can’t go to a job interview in dirty clothing, passers-by turn away from you, no-one wants to travel next to you on public transport. But where do you wash your clothes if you live on the street?”, the director of the Moscow branch of Nochlezhka, Darya Baibakova, wrote.

In the Petersburg branch of Nochlezhka, a laundry has already existed for 2 years, and in this time 5 511 people have washed and dried their clothes for free. The organisation is opening a branch in Moscow in the autumn and it was also necessary to find a space for the laundry. As it happened, it will open sooner than thought.

“We have been searching for free spaces for a shelter and trying to get that from the Moscow authorities or to strike a deal with a business for almost half a year now. But we rent the laundry for money, that is why that issue was solved more quickly,”, the director of the resource acquisition department of the Nochlezhka charity, Vlada Gasnikova, told ASI.

The Second Wind foundation was also thinking about opening its own laundry. As Darya Alekseeva, the director of the foundation, told ASI, the foundation collects more than 250 tonnes in clothes every year. These items need to be cleaned: most often they are unwashed when collected, and they cannot be passed on to wards or sold in the foundation’s shops in such a state.

“I experimented with washing in commercial laundries, but it ended up being very expensive and that is why we planned to launch our own. At this time, Nochlezhka was trying to find a space, and somehow I got in contact with Dasha (the director of the Moscow branch of Nochlezhka Darya Baybakova – Ed.) and we decided to try and launch a laundry together”, Alekseeva said.

According to Gasnikova, finding a space for the laundry which fitted all the technical requirements, was not far from the metro and did not cost astronomical amounts of money, was not simple. In the end, Nochlezhka found a facility next to the Dynamo metro station.

The organisations decided to divide the costs in half. In their thinking, during the day the “Cultural laundry” will wash the clothes of homeless people for free. No documents or checks will be required for this. In the evening and overnight, so that the space and equipment will not stand idle, staff from Second Wind will clean and dry donated clothes. After washing, they will pass them on to regional social service centres and charitable organisations. People from socially unprotected groups will also get work in the “cultural laundry”: the Second Wind foundation has a special job creation programme.

“For instance, we use the store from 9am until 5pm, and I understand perfectly well: when you have a commercial space, for which you are paying a lot of money, you need to use it as effectively as possible. That is why it is very logical, that during the first half of the day, homeless people will come, and in the second – our staff will wash”, Alekseeva said.

In Gasnikova’s opinion, Nochlezhka would have been able to open a laundry alone, but, of course, not as quickly, which is why the partnership has been beneficial for both projects – and not only for financial reasons.

“It is beneficial that the organisations are uniting their resources: informational, voluntary, financial – as a result we can do more and better. Joining together is worth it, if it is a healthy partnership, where both sides respectfully relate to each other’s interests and clearly understand what the project is for each of them,” of that Gasnikova is certain.

Darya Alekseeva also believes that in the case of the “cultural laundry” everything turned out a success.

“In this case, our needs and infrastructure united us. Both organisations will be able to use the equipment for half the amount,” she told ASI.

The organisations will soon launch a campaign to collect funds to renovate, to buy equipment for the space and to pay for the work of an administrator in the first year – they need to collect almost 2 million roubles. You can help them now.

Homeless people can also wash their clothes for free in the Home for Friends on the Street, which was created by the Friends of the Community of Saint Giles movement.

Nochlezhka is the oldest Russian charity providing assistance to homeless people: they have been working in Petersburg since 1990. The laundry in Moscow is their first project in the capital.  

The Second Wind charity was founded in 2015. The main areas of focus of the foundation are material help for families in need in the Russian regions, socialising people from high risk groups for work and recycling textiles not suitable for further use.



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