Hidden behind happy yellow doors, the Dignity and Desire Women’s and Baby street pantry offers anything and everything for those struggling and doing it tough.
Located in Ngunnawal, the pantry popped up 12 months ago after resident Lee Tammy noticed there was a need for products specifically for women and babies.
Starting with two small filing cabinets, Ms Tammy quickly progressed to the large cupboards that sit on her driveway after realising the basic necessities she offers are in high demand.
According to Ms Tammy, between 10 and 15 people per day, including men, women and children, use the pantry.
“There’s a lot more people than you think,” she said.
“I had a domestic violence mum who came here and said she’d put up with it for years but when her husband broke her daughter’s arm and threw her against a wall, that was when she left … I hear a lot of sad stories. It’s good to be able to help them out.”
As well as providing dignity, Ms Tammy said the pantry also stocks items that woman might desire, such as a tube of mascara to help them feel good.
In addition, there are cards and craft supplies so people can make gifts for their loved ones or so mums can entertain their children.
“A lot of mums don’t concentrate on themselves; if they’ve got some money there, it goes to providing for the family,” she said.
While the pantry is kept fully stocked with donations from the community, Ms Tammy also spends her spare time making care packs for women and children.
She started making the packs after several people escaping domestic violence reached out to the pantry for help.
“They didn’t have much of anything. So I started to make up a handbag which was full of your essentials that you need,” said Ms Tammy.
“Then I had a family here that came with nothing and I felt for the kids.”
Each pack has the same necessities such as shampoo, soap and a toothbrush, but Ms Tammy also tries to add extras such as makeup, jewellery or toys for the children.
She said she likes to make each person that visits the pantry feel special.
“It’s never the same because I never get things the same,” said Ms Tammy.
“People who get these care packs genuinely come here with nothing, so to be able to walk away with enough stuff to get them by and make them feel important is what it’s all about.
“I try to always have two or three women’s care packs made up at a time because then they get a little bit of choice,” she said.
The Dignity and Desire pantry is one of several located around the ACT which accepts donations from the community for those doing it tough.
In a recent call out to the public, Ms Tammy asked for donations that could be used as gifts for Mother’s Day. Her aim was no mother would go without a gift.
“I had 171 different families turn up for gifts over the two weeks and I gave out 393 gifts,” she said.
“Once people know you’re here and what the need is, Canberra is actually a very generous town.”
Dignity and Desire Women’s and Baby Street Pantry is located at 37 Jabanungga Ave, Ngunnawal.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, you can call or visit the website of:
- 1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732
- Canberra Rape Crisis Centre: 02 6247 2525
- Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT: 02 6280 0900
- Lifeline: 13 11 14
- In an emergency, call 000