Save our Launderette

by Boundary Estate Community Launderette in London, Greater London, United Kingdom

Total raised £1,731

£5,000 target 31 days left
34% 55 supporters
Keep what you raise – this project will receive all pledges made by 26th August 2024 at 7:00am

Our Community Launderette has served local residents for more than 30 years. Help us to secure the next 30 years!

by Boundary Estate Community Launderette in London, Greater London, United Kingdom

As voluntary directors of the Boundary Estate Community Launderette, our aim is to save it from closure and to help maintain its vital role within the local community. The Launderette is at the heart of a vibrant local network and provides not only a service that helps mitigate the health problems inherent in living in damp and overcrowded conditions, but also a safe, social space for residents, particularly the elderly and solitary.

The forced closure of the Launderette by the council in February 2024 was a wake up call for the residents, who stepped up to set up the #SaveOurCommunityLaunderette campaign and make their voice heard by Tower Hamlets Council. 

In response to the depth of feeling, the council returned the keys to the Launderette, and agreed to provide the time that we need to negotiate a new lease and safeguard this vital asset for the local community. However, we run the Launderette as a not-for-profit community business: any surplus is ploughed straight back into the Launderette, for the benefit of the community. And we had only just started trading at pre-COVID levels when the closure happened, jeopardising even further our financial situation.

We are launching 7 weeks fundraising to balance against 7 weeks of forced closure

We will use the funds from this crowdfunding to keep the Launderette open; to finance the legal costs to negotiate a new lease with the council; for the upkeep and maintenance of the Launderette.

OUR STORY

The Boundary Estate Community Launderette (“our Launderette”) was set up in 1992 by residents as a not-for-profit community effort to get their laundry out of their homes, which suffer from mould and damp. Our Launderette is located within the oldest council housing in the UK, the Boundary Estate, which is a Grade II listed estate built in the 1890s by London County Council. 

Alison Hankinson, founder director:

“At that time, I was pregnant with my 3rd child. Due to the lack of space in the flats, washing machines couldn’t be fitted. It was also difficult to dry clothes, as there was no central heating in the flats. Originally on the Estate there had been a laundry, I am not sure when that closed and was turned into flats.

Lorraine Hart of The Tower Hamlets Environment Trust (THET ) assisted in setting up the committee and all the legal requirements to raise funds. We eventually opened the Boundary Estate Community Launderette in 1992”.

30 years of service

Situated between Shoreditch and Bethnal Green, our Launderette has been providing a vital service for more than 30 years.

Jean Locker - founder director, still an indispensable member of the board: 

"We didn't have business skills or knowledge of running a company, but opened the Launderette and learned by doing, because we felt the residents really needed this service so badly. 

The reception from the community was astounding and we've managed against the odds to keep the service going for more than 30 years".

scenes from life at the launderette by Deirdre Robinson Your Beautiful Launderette by © Deirdre Robinson

As it was deemed an essential service by the government and thanks to the great and determined effort of the directors and the staff, the Launderette remained open even throughout the COVID pandemic. 

Beyond the service it provides, our Launderette holds a special place in the hearts of residents, especially those with limited mobility, the elderly and the solitary. This is the space where they meet their neighbours and have a chat over cups of tea. It supports local charities via secondhand book sales. It employs local people and is run by local residents, fostering a rare sense of community in a “city of transition” such as London.

Forced closure

On 7 February, 2024, staff and residents were shocked to read a sign that our Launderette was repossessed. A team from Tower Hamlets Council came and changed the locks. They wanted to market the premises at a Shoreditch-level rent. 

Residents and local supporters immediately got together and set up a “Save Our Community Launderette” petition. Within two weeks, more than 2,500 signatures were received pleading with the council to reopen the Launderette. The campaign received strong support from national and local media, who covered the story and the plight of residents with laundry piled up in their flats. The council rescinded its decision and returned the keys on 26 March.

Susanna Kow, chair of the Boundary TRA: 

"We received 2500 signatures and a huge outpouring of support from residents within two weeks of mounting our campaign to #SaveOurCommunityLaunderette. We are grateful that the council listened to the community and reopened the launderette. We are now working with the council to provide our community launderette with a more secure lease".

Media coverage:

Reopening

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The residents celebrated the reopening of our Launderette with a tea party. It was definitely a cause for celebration, but we soon realised that the troubles were not over yet.

Firstly, we discovered the 7- weeks’ closure had severely impacted the business. Many were not aware that the Launderette was now open for washing again. Some of the regular customers, thinking our Launderette had permanently closed, found alternative ways to get their laundry done. Crucially, the Launderette continued incurring expenses even when closed, for bills, contractors, and to protect staff from unemployment. As we run the business on a break-even basis and every surplus is reinvested in the Launderette, the 7-weeks closure was very damaging for our tight budget.

Furthermore, we are still in discussion with Tower Hamlets Council and haven’t reached as yet a secure position for the Launderette. This is why the petition "Save Our Community Launderette" by the Boundary Estate TRA is still open: sign here.

A place at the heart of the community

These are some of the comments made by our supporters as they signed the petition (comments may have been shortened for brevity).

  • "The launderette is vital for reducing mould in our homes and therefore reducing the cost of cleaning homes from the damage of mould. Mould is a danger to our elderly and those with respiratory issues, by being able to dry our laundry we reduce the cost and burden on the NHS and the council".
    Matthew
  • I am over 70 and me and my friends use this launderette service to dry all my bedding. Taking this away will severely affect me and the elderly in this area”.

    Lutfun

  • “Our landlord often does not maintain our utilities so we have relied on the launderette when we have been without a washing machine for weeks on end. I have 4 flatmates and no outside space to dry our clothes ”.
    Ula
  • “People without washing machines and local businesses rely on this facility as it’s the only one around. At a time when shops are doing badly I can't think of a better use of the site than the current one. There have been 4 grocer/shop closures in the area over the last 10 years so the launderette is the only amenity left that is not for young professionals”.
    Patrick

  • “I grew up in Tower Hamlets, I'd go past the launderette every day after school. The staff all knew me and were always so friendly. My dad also worked there for almost 20 years before he retired. I'd often go to work with him and saw first hand how much of a vital spot it was for the community to speak to people you wouldn't usually speak to, provide support and advice and just pop in for a quick chat”.
    Shahnaz

We need your help

We are appealing for your help to secure the future of our Launderette.

The funds will be used primarily to sustain the legal expenses necessary to negotiate a new lease from the council that reflects the community-oriented business model of our Launderette.

Beside that, we need to cover the costs of upkeep and maintenance, so that the Launderette can continue operating and can expand its role as a community hub. With new directors coming on board and many ideas buzzing, we are looking forward to great things to come.

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What does the future hold?

Georgette, new director:

"Our top priority has to be negotiating a new lease with the council that secures the future of the Launderette. For this, we will need legal support and part of the funding raised will go towards these expenses.

We are also hoping that funds raised will give a real boost to our efforts and ethos.

Caring for our lovely staff is of paramount importance to us and one of the ways we do this is by paying the London Living Wage, which we want to continue to do.

We are making great strides in bringing back our old customers and introducing new ones, both residents and businesses. Extra funds to support this drive would be enormously helpful.

Once we are back on our feet, we have plans to upgrade our washing and drying machines. We'd also like to refurbish our Launderette's interior to utilise the space better.

Ultimately, we would love to see the Launderette grow ever more popular and be a welcoming, thriving hub for those seeking a friendly face (as well as getting their washing and drying done!), becoming an even more integral and valued community resource".

Together, we can make a difference

The community needs you.

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