We’re coming together to support one of our own team members and her small local charity here in Liverpool.
Kathy is co-founder of Love, Jasmine, a charity which supports family members directly affected by the loss of a child by providing practical, emotional and respite support.
Love, Jasmine was set up in 2016 following the sudden death of Kathy’s own daughter Jasmine, who was only 6.
The last year has been extremely challenging for us all, even more so for small charities who have seen all their normal fundraising events cancelled, but with the need for their services being just as much in demand.
So we’re getting involved and joining Kathy in her virtual running/walking event which is taking place over the weekend of 17th/18th April.
We would really appreciate it if you could help us to support Love, Jasmine by donating what you can on our Just Giving Page and sponsoring the laundry team participating in this event.
Did you know that, for every pound you spend at Kitty’s, you help us generate £7.11 of value in return?
Or that, over the next three years, Kitty’s is calculated to generate over £3.5m (£3,552,739) of social impact?
We’ve been working with Nick Small at Social Impact Consulting to create a social value report. It’s the measure that we use to calculate the community – or social – impact of a business, by putting a value against a range of positive impacts it has, like wellbeing, jobs in the local community, self esteem, improved confidence, family support – a whole range of things that can’t be measured in simple financial terms. But they’re the sort of things that can have a transformational impact on people’s lives.
We have five key social impacts:
Reducing hygiene poverty by providing high-quality, affordable ecological laundry and dry cleaning services in a friendly, non-judgemental, open community setting. ‘Hygiene poverty’ is having to make a choice between heating your home, paying your rent, eating or being clean. It includes not being able to launder your clothes, school uniforms or sports kits when needed and has a big impact on the confidence and wellbeing of people who’re struggling to make ends meet.
Rebuilding a sense of community. Do we need to say more? We love to catch up with our customers, whether you’re popping in for a cuppa or calling to check if you’re laundry’s ready.
Raising awareness of healthy living and wellbeing by encouraging people to come together in a community space and encouraging people to take control of their own mental and physical wellbeing.
Creating good jobs with training and paying the real living wage as well as providing quality volunteering opportunities, all contributing to creating inclusive economic growth.
We also have a good environmental impact – although it’s harder to quantify in numbers right now. We use pioneering ecologically-sound improvements to dry cleaning and use electric (not gas-powered) washing machines and driers, buying our energy from 100% renewable sources. Our plastic bags are biodegradable (and we offer canvas alternatives); our ecological detergent refill service cuts down on single-use plastic and we partner with Agile Liverpool, to use cargo bikes for laundry drops.
Our social impact report is important, because it helps us to measure the things that are traditionally difficult to calculate – the difference it makes to people’s lives.
Most importantly, it helps us measure the impact of different things that we do, so that we have a way to keep true to our values and our vision here. It’s a way to show us the social value of different ways we spend our money, so our members can decide which has the most impact in our community. It helps us to see things in a different way.
Click here to read the executive summary of our impact report. Or get in touch if you’d like to see the full methodology behind it.
This update is written by Kerrie McGiveron, our researcher on our UK Lottery-funded heritage oral history project, ‘Hanging Out, The Histories of Liverpool’s Laundry Life.’
Those of you who follow us on social media will know that our heritage project is well underway. Back in May I started interviewing men and women at Kitty’s Launderette, chatting to them about their memories of wash houses and launderettes in the Liverpool area. As a social historian, it means a lot to me to hear the stories and memories of men and women who recalled streets, shops and aspects of daily life around the wash house. These interviews were recorded and transcribed for our archive at Kitty’s Launderette.
It is important to me that this history project is shared with our community. I believe that history is for everyone and it is important to communicate and celebrate these lesser-known histories of Liverpool’s laundry life. Back in June, I contacted the Museum of Liverpool to see if we could work together to bring this project to a wider audience in a creative and engaging way. Kay Jones, the curator of urban community history at the museum and Paul Gallagher the deputy director of the museum visited our beautiful launderette on a particularly busy day.
Against the backdrop of whirring washing machines, babies crawling and washing-folding, we chatted about possible ideas for a display in the museum.
Over the coming months we firmed up our plans and I continued with the oral history interviews at Kitty’s (in between doing the sheet dance and folding laundry of course!) As I am also doing a PhD at the University of Liverpool I was able to enlist their help for me to work on the display as a placement. In September I began my short placement at the museum to help put together the display along with Kay Jones. We came up with the idea of using some of the items from the museum’s collections as well as some of the interview material I have gathered. Led by the interviews and the memories of the participants, items were selected from the museum stores and key quotes printed onto washing, as well as folded sheets stacked on an old Silver Cross pram. I won’t add too many spoilers about the display here!
Behind the Scenes
In early October, Kay and I visited to the museum stores to select the objects for display as well as photographs to be scanned. The items, which included a mangle from Christian Street wash house from around 1930, had to be handled carefully with gloves, wrapped and transported to our office ready to display.
Our idea about printing quotes onto washing was also coming to fruition around this time!
I am very much enjoying bringing together this exhibition with the Museum of Liverpool, Kitty’s Launderette through the University of Liverpool’s placement scheme. The display will celebrate the history of Liverpool’s laundry life, showing some of the memories and lived experience of ordinary people in our community.
The exhibition opens at the Museum of Liverpool on Friday 22nd November 2019 and will run until mid February 2020.
My name is Kerrie and I am excited to be part of the Kitty’s Launderette team as the lead researcher on our community-led heritage project, ‘Hanging Out: Histories of Liverpool’s Laundry Life.’ The project is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and will explore Liverpool’s washhouses and the community around them. My aim over the next few months is to gather and record stories and memories of Liverpool washhouses from members of the local community to explore these lesser-known social histories of Liverpool life.
Washhouses in Liverpool have played a significant role in urban development and public health as well as being a social space for the community. As a PhD researcher interested in social history and lived experience, this project is absolutely fascinating for me and I am so proud to be a part of it.
The starting point for my research has been our namesake, the inspirational Kitty Wilkinson. Catherine Wilkinson (1786–1860) who became known as the ‘Saint of the Slums.’ Her commitment to public health and community work resulted in the opening of Frederick Street washhouse, the first in the UK. Michael Kelly’s book The Life and Times of Kitty Wilkinson provides a rich and fascinating account of Kitty’s life and has been a wonderful resource.
For background research I really wanted to think about ‘mapping washhouses’ in Liverpool. This is no easy task, as Liverpool has altered so much, with the slum clearances of the 1960s and 1970s changing the face of city. I began by using the book, Talk of the Wash House by Peter Ellison and Paulette Howe and have been researching the development of washhouses in Liverpool from the nineteenth century. These include Burroughs Gardens washhouse which opened in 1879 and closed in 1985. Burroughs Gardens was threatened with closure in the 1970s and this led to many women demonstrating successfully to keep the wash house open. This is just one interesting aspect of the research I have undertaken so far, and I am looking forward to continuing with my ongoing aim of ‘mapping’ these washhouses, their key events and people.
We are launching our heritage project officially on Monday 13th April with a welcome event from 7.00pm – 9.00pm. We are delighted to also be hosting Cinema Nation with a selection of film-screenings celebrating the lives of women in Liverpool. Three short films will be shown which encapsulate ‘The Spirit of Liverpool’ and will be a welcoming and informal event to celebrate the opening of our launderette and the launch of our community-led project.
Once Kitty’s Launderette is open, I will be running a drop-in session once a week. These sessions will be an informal chat over a cuppa, where we will interview and record memories of wash houses in the Liverpool area. From my research already, it is clear that these wash houses were part of the fabric of life. One of Liverpool’s folk songs about the changing face of Liverpool and resettlement of residents outside of the city includes a line demonstrating the importance of the washhouse as a nostalgic reminder of family life and community:
‘We’ll miss the Mary Ellens
And me Dad’ll miss the docks
An Gran’ll miss the washhouse
Where she washed me Granddad’s socks
Don’t want to go to Kirkby
Or Skelmersdale or Speke
Don’t want to go, from all we know
On Back Buchanan Street’
I am very much looking forward to hearing the stories of men and women who used launderettes or worked in them. As the project takes off, we are hoping to produce a series of zines, an exhibition and other events. The next few months are going to be very exciting for myself as a researcher, for the local community and for Kitty’s Launderette.
The drop-in sessions will run each Thursday from 1.00pm – 8.30pm. For more information and to book an appointment at the drop-in please call Kerrie on 07943 008 592or email email@example.com
Tickets are available for ‘The Spirit of Liverpool’ film screening on Monday 13th May by donation at Eventbrite
A few years ago, we had an idea to create a community launderette in Anfield/ Everton with affordable washing and drying facilitates as well as a space for people to gather, talk and learn.
We’re almost ready to open for business thanks to the hundreds of hours our small team have put in to renovating our space.
For our third blog our project coordinator Grace shares her experiences of bringing together the skills and knowledge of lots of different people to pull together a functioning launderette space
My name is Grace and I have been involved with Kitty’s Launderette since the early days, I’m responsible for a lot of the research and co-ordination of getting our idea off the ground. Since securing our building in Spring 2018, we have been working closely with a number of people and organiations to create a functioning top-quality launderette; which is accessible, safe and efficient. It’s taken a lot of planning, consultation and collaboration, pushing us all beyond our comfort zones, as many of us have never undertaken anything of this size and complexity before.
Throughout the planning process we were lucky to work with Alex from Lj Architects based in North Liverpool and Paul, our structural engineer. They’ve both given us that technical underpinning of the lay out of the space, ensuring we are complying with complex building regulations and fire safety standards. They have been incredibly supportive of what we are trying to achieve, investing and sharing our vision from the early days and helping us gain planning permission in December 2018.
Since the beginning of our project we have been thinking about how we could make our new set up as environmentally friendly as possible. After undertaking research into the industry, we took the decision to opt for a completely electric set-up for the water heating and drying. Gas is largely traditionally used for this and can be cheaper from suppliers however part of our reimagining of a launderette means it needs to be fit for a fossil free future so we’re very proud to be using a renewable energy provider.
This meant that we definitely needed a brilliant electrician and thankfully we found one! Phil was responsible for undertaking a total refit of the space, installing powerful three phase sockets for our machines, trunking and a new large powerful fuse board; not to mention all the lighting and new sockets. Phil approaches every work day with a smile on his face and enthusiasm for his job. He has delivered the whole refit over a couple of months becoming a key member of the team and developing a good set of jokes with our lead builder Ehsan.
Alongside Phil, Ehsan has been working on the detailed insulation and fire boarding of the walls and ceiling. As the ceiling in particular can be quite challenging with several layers of heavy fire proof board, Ehsan (also known as the inventor) fabricated himself a plaster board lifting machine on wheels to assist him in this job.
Ehsan’s desire and ability to turn his hand to everything has meant, he built and installed our new electric roller shutters as well as the new higher capacity plumbing and drainage in the launderette space. He also ensured we made a great accessible toilet and baby changing facilities in the space for all visitors to use. He’s also installed plumbing to our all-important tea and coffee station!
A long- time friend of the laundry, Kenny resident and award-winning plaster, Yagob did an amazing job helping to plaster the launderette in just a couple of weekends. It was amazing to watch him work with such speed and precision and the final finish of the space is fantastic.
Since 2017 we have been researching the washing machines that we hoped to have in our new community launderette. Since we had the opportunity to build the launderette from scratch we wanted to get the most environmentally friendly machines on the market, with efficiency and quality manufacturing of great importance. We have been to visit loads of different launderettes around the country, talked to them about their experience of their machines and sought as much advice as we could possibly glean!
We have been thrilled to work alongside Goodman Sparks, a 30+ year old family business in Sheffield who have been incredibly generous to Kitty’s Launderette with their time and knowledge, helping us shape the best set up for the space and giving us the low-down on all the industry tips. They will be delivering the training to our new team so we can deliver the best quality laundry and eco dry cleaning services.
Machine delivery day finally arrived with great excitement and anticipation, we all had our fingers crossed (seriously) that all our measurements were correct and we got all the plumbing, electrics and ventilation in the right place! Goodman Sparks team did the install with Ehsan on hand for building support and cups of tea.
They are now all fixed into place, all the services connected and ready for us to now complete the design finishes’ in the space ahead of opening. We of course have begun doing some test washing to make sure they are working well, which is handy because we all have loads of dirty building clothes from the last months of hard graft! So, here’s to a spotless, clean smelling future!
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with two paragraphs about yourself and why you would like to join us, or come along to one of our drop-ins and tell us about why you want to work at Kitty’s.
77 Grasmere Street, L5 6RJ • Wednesday 6th March 12.30pm – 5.30pm • Saturday 9th March 10am – 2pm
What are we looking for in new team members?
We are looking for people who…
• Like working with people and as part of a team
• Are excited to learn new skills & ways of working while earning a living wage
• Want to have a positive impact on our neighbourhood and the environment?
Three years ago, we had an idea to create a community launderette in Anfield/ Everton with affordable washing and drying facilitates as well as a community arts space.
After a lot of hard work from our small team of workers and volunteers our building is beginning to take shape.
Soon we’ll be opening our doors but before we do, we want to share our journey! Our blog series gives you an insight into all the wonderful people bringing our vision to life.
For our second blog our lead designer, Louis shares his work on developing the look and feel of Kitty’s Launderette.
My name’s Louis and I’ve been leading on the visual identity for Kitty’s Launderette for the last 3 years alongside the team. I wanted to share some of the designs we’ve made and the thought processes we’ve had while developing them.
When designing the look and feel of the launderette, we had many conversations to develop the core values we wanted to communicate. It needed to feel clean and fresh as well as communicating our desire for more environmentally conscience processes. We chose a natural and vibrant green colour and added a sky/ freshwater blue as a neutral colour complimenting the green.
ITC Conduit Extra Bold was the perfect choice for a typeface because its design is based on the kind of letters used on laundry labels and also on the shapes created by pluming. I love the directness of it, it also has quite a lot of interesting quirks. I created a small caps version of the font too which emphasised the direct launderette feel we wanted.
In keeping with this directness, the logo I created is simply Kitty’s Launderette spun round like a washing machine. I referenced laundry icons for this. I like that it’s simple enough that you could draw it by hand and instantly recognise it as Kitty’s Launderette.
I went on to create some illustrations which developed naturally from these ideas. They relate to the directness of laundry icons but with a freer hand-drawn style shape. We first used these on the soap we made for the Kickstarter and have gone on to use them in other designs.
After trying this colour out on the initial flyers, we’ve begun to expand our palette with other vibrant and fun colours drawn from flowers.
When we started to think about the shop front signage we wanted to hand-paint it, not just because we love building things ourselves but it was also more economic and it gives the launderette a homely and welcoming feel. We drew inspiration from established businesses in our local area – Handyman’s Corner, The MOT garage and Frank Greens who all have great hand-painted signage.
The building we are in was formerly a builder’s workshop and consequently there were many materials left in the space. Throughout the renovation work we’ve tried to re-use things as much as possible including materials for our new shopfront. This spirit of recycling and giving things a new life has been the grounding for a lot of the look and feel of the launderette.
As well as the main Kitty’s Launderette sign above the door we wanted to experiment with some temporary decorative signage around the buildings exterior while building work is ongoing. I started putting the arrows from the logo onto the illustration and realised it looked like a movement diagram, a dance you could do in the launderette. Or maybe instructions on how to do the laundry “the dance you do while folding the sheets” as one of our friends and supporters once said. I like the idea of developing this into a kind of hop scotch game which we could use on the ground at the opening event.
I love how playful and imaginative we can be when doing projects like this. We can think of exciting ideas that are engaging for our community, members and workers, they’re also fun to create!
In recent weeks we have had some great volunteer days down at the site, focusing on the shopfront; helping us come on leaps and bounds with the renovation works. Tom B, Tom C, Fred and Myriam have all pitched in with painting, cleaning, carpentry and much more. It’s lovely to have new energy and input down on the site, especially on those rainy cold days!
We’re creating something positive for our community so it’s been important to design the space with as much love and attention to detail as possible.
Starting with a core grounding, it’s easier to make decisions on designs and anything to do with the launderette. When we have difficult decisions to make, we can just ask whether the options fit with what we all believe in.
Once you have the basis for what the project stands for, with elements that represent that, you can see how far you can stretch the ideas. I’m looking forward to how the space continues to develop and where we can take the designs we have.
The team keep laughing at my idea of “bring your undies bunting” for our opening weekend, but I think it’s a pretty good idea!
Back in 2016 we had an idea; wouldn’t it be great to have a community launderette that offered affordable washing and drying facilitates, and used all that extra space for events and activities?
Well, three years later, with a lot of hard work and planning, we’re on our way to making this idea a reality.
We’re deep into the renovations of our brilliant launderette space so we wanted to share what we are working on with you. We’re starting a new blog series documenting our journey to opening. First up to share their work is our lead builder Ehsan.
My name is Ehsan and I am leading on the renovations of the laundrette space. I wanted to share the work I and our team of volunteers have been leading on, as well as some great photos of the work we are doing to get our launderette ready to open in a few months’ time.
I’ve been part of the Kitty’s team since 2016. This part of the project is where I can really contribute the most; it draws on many of my skills for welding, carpentry and design, as well as my passion for learning new crafts, experimenting with materials and working as part of a team.
I have been working with a great group of volunteers: Fred, Ahmad, Rick and Michael. Our first obstacle of the space was the floor. The existing floor was broken in places and very uneven, digging this out was a massive job but we undertook it with lots of people power and had the job done in a few weeks.
This work provided us with the opportunity to lay a new floor that is insulated and damp-proofed, while at the same time sorting out the drainage for the washing machines and putting some foundations for structural steel supports.
The new floor is a big part of the look of the launderette so we wanted to experiment with designs and materials to create something visually interesting. Over a conversation at Granby Market we discovered that Granby Workshop had a load of tiles that didn’t come out quite right and that we could have them to create a new colourful aggregate surface. We broke them up and put them into our floor. We love to collaborate with other creative organisations and giving this beautiful material a new life was exciting for me and the team.
Although I have experience of laying concrete, it was great to have the support of the team at Penny Lane Builders, who offered advice, contacts for materials and some friendly, experienced workers on the long-awaited day of pouring the new floor.
The floor took a long time but it was very important part of the job, especially as we were using the donated Granby tiles, in the end it was worth the extra time and effort for a beautiful finished result.
Another important part of this structural stage for the team was the welding new steel beams and supporting posts, which I did following the helpful advice of our structural engineer, Paul.
I enjoy my job because I get to be involved with each part of the transformation of the space. I can see the potential and imagine how the launderette will look when it’s finished, giving me motivation to go further. I know the end result will be filled with the energy and craft of everyone who has worked on it.