Not-for-profit launderette offers a cheap place to wash and dry clothes and a warm, welcoming space for the community.
Kitty’s Laundry is a co-operative laundry and community space in Everton. Grace Harrison, co-op member and co-founder, got the idea for a laundry from sitting in her local, underused laundrette and thinking about accessible, inclusive spaces where people are encouraged to loiter.
“Laundrettes are warm and familiar, there are benches, there is time – it has all the things that enable people to come together,” she says. “The idea was to make a laundrette where you might want to stay. We wanted to make the space multi-functional, with a bar and some food.”
Kitty’s opened in May 2019 with a film screening about rebellious women, including Kitty Wilkinson, the laundry’s namesake. Wilkinson was instrumental in the washhouse movement in Liverpool in the mid-1800s, and opened a laundry in her own home to help stop the spread of cholera. At a street party, the area’s growing number of community business came together to celebrate, including Homebaked, a co-operative bakery over the road from the Anfield stadium, and members of the community land trust who are regenerating a nearby street.
The founders registered as a worker co-operative in 2017 and spent two years getting planning and raising funding to build the laundry, which has been fitted with energy-efficient, electric washing machines using a grant. “We have been able to present our ideas to the community and bring people along with us,” says Rachael O’Byrne, a co-operative member. “That can’t happen instantaneously, you need to spend time.”
Tags Community business
Find out more
- High streets can be saved. Here’s how to reinvent them for the 21st century. Guardian, 1/5/19
- Liverpool To Open Non-Profit Ecological Launderette In Honour Of Woman Known As 'Saint Of The Slums'. Elle, 18/6/18
- Liverpool community launderette honours the Saint of the Slums
New rules needed
Policies that can help unleash the potential of this or similar initiatives across the UK.
Expand the community and co-operative banking sector
Stakeholder banks can be mandated to serve the public interest or local communities rather than simply to maximise returns.
Turn RBS into a network of local banks
New banks would be owned in trust for the public benefit and mandated to lend only within their local area.
Promote community wealth building
Support co-ops to thrive in their localities by anchoring them within place-based industrial and community wealth building strategies.
Create devolved ‘just transition’ funds
Government should devolve a proportion of its Green New Deal budget to support local just transition plans.
Create affordable workspaces
Affordable workspaces are essential to the survival of independent businesses.