In the once-bustling inner city streets of Darlinghurst, members of the surrounding homeless community would gather regularly to attend services at Rough Edges, the community centre on the main drag of Victoria Street. Now, they can't access services in person anymore, and food shortages within the homeless community are escalating.
In an effort to address this, Darlinghurst local and founder of the Facebook group Darlo Darlings, Mike Galvin, launched the Darlo Pantry; an initiative to collect and distribute food to the homeless and marginalised communities of the Darlinghurst area and surrounds. Like its Inner West counterpart, the Newtown Blessing Box, the Darlo Pantry operates on a simple foundational concept: donate what you can, and take if you need.
In order to mobilise his local community, Galvin put the call-out to line the shelves of the newly instituted Darlo Pantry on Facebook. Darlo and Surry Hills residents responded with gusto, filling up the roadside make-shift pantry shelves with food they had at home which they didn't need, particularly tinned and packaged food that doesn't need much preparation.
Local small business owner Mark Batstra, of Mark's Florist on Victoria Street, also jumped in, ready to offer his shop and his services to collect donations and store them until Rough Edges is able to distribute them and organise the pantry shelves with stock. Rough Edges' Jen Webster said: "On Wednesday, a homeless guy came in to say thank you for the pantry, saying it's the only food he's been getting for weeks, so he's really grateful."
Reflecting on the ways in which local communities have been affected by this crisis can be overwhelming – but Galvin, Batstra and the team at Rough Edges are showing that local, incremental actions can have a huge impacts if they're done with heart. If you have some pantry basics to spare, wander over to Mark's Florist to leave your donation. Every little bit helps.