North Liverpool Social Enterprise honours Kitty Wilkinson with plans for a Community Launderette and they need your help!
Later this summer a team of Liverpool residents are planning to open a launderette, but not quite as you know it. The social enterprise will not only provide affordable services to the local community in the Anfield-Everton area of North Liverpool; creating a hub of activity for people to gather, talk and learn.
Kitty’s Launderette is named after pioneering Irish migrant and often unsung hero, Kitty Wilkinson. Wilkinson was instrumental in the movement to open the UK’s first public wash house and did so in 1842 on Upper Frederick Street, Liverpool.
The new social business will create a unique alternative to overpriced coin-operated launderettes; reimagining the local amenity, not just a place for washing and drying but a space where people can gather, talk and learn.
Project co-ordinator Grace Harrison said ‘Whether that be through film screenings, poetry nights, reading groups, local history groups, art exhibitions, craft clubs, ironing clubs, coffee and conversation clubs; this will be a unique space for the community with endless possibilities!’
For two years the small team have been working to develop the enterprise, running a programme of events to engage with the local community about the launderette; collecting their experiences, stories and ideas, which have helped to inform how the project takes shape.
The project has sustainable, economic and social benefits at the heart of it and the team is working with the Department of Eco-Innovation at Liverpool John Moores University.
Grace added ‘We’re exploring how to build ecological technologies into our business model, through ecological washing liquids, recycling heat from dryers and waste water and the use of LED lighting.’
The launderette will be staffed to provide a more accessible and welcoming experience for those who use it, as well as creating a number of part time jobs in which staff will share collective responsibility for the project as a whole.
Helping to make this happen is a Kickstarter campaign, aiming to raise £14,000 that will go towards the fit out of the premises and enable them to open to the public at end of the summer.
Grace said ‘We feel like we have come a long way over these last two years, from a small idea to a long term social enterprise rooted in our community. We have established ourselves as a multi-stake holder co-operative enabling us to be guided and shaped by all those who may use the laundry, work there, host events or live nearby.’
Working with local artists to create a series of different rewards, there’s lots of unique pieces that celebrate the past and future of the well-loved wash house.