Corporates Join Forces for Disability Employment Social Enterprise

The social enterprise in Queensland’s Toowoomba region called Vanguard Laundry Services has been established with over $6 million in funding, finance and in-kind support provided by corporate sponsors including Westpac, Westpac Foundation, The Paul Ramsay Foundation, AMP, Ian Potter Foundation and local philanthropist Ian Knox.

Social Ventures Australia worked with all the parties to raise the capital to establish the business. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull officially opened Vanguard Laundry Services on Monday.

The federal government has committed to providing $1 million to support the new service, which is the brain-child of local not-for-profit organisation Toowoomba Clubhouse.

Vanguard Laundry Services is a partnership between Toowoomba Clubhouse and St Vincent’s Private Hospital and was made possible when St Vincent’s offered the clubhouse a long-term nine year contract in return for building the facility.

Toowoomba Clubhouse said funds came via 29 cash donations worth $3.2 million and over $770,000 in pro bono and in kind support from 26 project partners. The organisation also borrowed over $2.1 million from social impact financiers.

The centre provides employment opportunities for over 40 individuals living with a mental illness in Toowoomba. It said the facility is the region’s only full barrier wall system laundry, and is the only business in the region with a career development centre working to find employment opportunities for the socially disadvantaged.

Executive director of Toowoomba Clubhouse and founder of Vanguard Laundry Services Luke Terry said the momentum behind socially-minded and sustainable business practices was incredibly strong.

“The groundwork for a lasting shift in the way business and communities work together has been laid by social enterprises like Vanguard,” Terry said.

“Mental health issues affect more Queenslanders than cancer and diabetes combined. Traditional employment programs have a success rate of 14 per cent in helping people unemployed with mental illness get to 13 weeks of employment.

Originally Published by Pro Bono Australia, click here to continue reading.