Vanguard Laundry Services is a social enterprise that operates as a commercial laundry and career development centre – creating jobs and career opportunities for people living with mental illness who have struggled to gain work.

Since early 2017, more than 120 people have started work at Vanguard and 26 have been supported to transition into external roles or full-time education.

Findings from Vanguard’s 2018 Social Impact Report indicates many of the laundry’s employees experienced physical and mental health improvements, and increased levels of social engagement and financial independence – particularly in the first year of work. 

Only 25% of employees had worked within a year of starting at Vanguard, and 11% had never worked.

The report reveals:

  • one year after starting at Vanguard, employees had more financial independence.
  • less welfare dependence. The average reduction in Centrelink income was $204 a fortnight, with a total of $153,451 in Centrelink payments saved in Vanguard’s first 18 months
  • a reduction in housing stress. Employees reported a 48 percentage-point reduction in housing affordability stress, with 17% spending 30% of their income on housing costs (a marker for housing stress) – compared to 65.2% spending this amount prior to starting at Vanguard.
  • a reduced use of health services, with the target group reporting 138 fewer days in hospital since starting at Vanguard. The report estimates that $231,767 in direct hospital costs have been saved between December 2016 to June 2018.  
  • 64% of employees who started in FY2018 said their health was somewhat or much better than before Vanguard, again emphasising the initial impact felt in the first year of employment.
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