As the evening descends in Waverley, Danielle Watkins has noticed a trend in recent weeks among those coming to the GroWaverley food co-operative for bread and vegetables.
"We're seeing a lot more people who live in their cars coming up here, later in the afternoon and at nighttime when the other relief places are closed," she said. "We're starting to see a big increase in that.
"It's been families living in cars too. Often it's a couple of people, but there have been some big families, you can tell because they're the cars that are bigger and with things crammed into every space possible.
"We usually have a lot of couch surfers up here, but the cars are a new thing for me."
Since early 2020, Ms Watkins and a small team of volunteers have been building up their community organisation, which started as a hole in a fence for emergency food relief but has quickly grown into something much more.
It was an important time for Waverley to have that extra support as COVID caused schools to shut and put people out of work. The suburb has minimal public facilities compared with other parts of Launceston, and for those unable to afford the expense of a car to travel to Newstead or Ravenswood, the co-op is often their only lifeline for fresh food.
On Wednesday afternoon, school children came and went to collect food essentials for their families. A people mover pulled up and a man in a moon boot grabbed what he needed.
Ms Watkins said it was clear that an increasing number of people were in desperate need of support.
"A lot of families I've spoken to are looking at instant homelessness in the next few weeks because they're being moved out of their rental properties and have nowhere to go. There's families living in hostels or trying to get into women's shelters, but there's just no space for them," she said.
Over the months, Ms Watkins has seen the waves of people coming for food and other relief, which is often related to the levels of government welfare support available.
"When a supplement was taken away from the pension population, we saw a whole lot of pensioners two weeks after that, and they've just kept coming since," she said.
"We see a base rate of about 50 to 60 people a day. When things get cut, it goes up to about 80 to 90. Then when they get a supplement, we'll end up with that same base rate."
And then, in those better times, GroWaverley also sees its funding donations increase from the community.
"The community gives when they can," Ms Watkins said.
"They want to give back, and they want us to keep going because they know it's here long-term. They want to support it when they can so that when they need it, it's still there.
"But at the moment, there's way more people in need than before."
From little things, big things grow
A lot has happened at GroWaverley over the past 12 months.
Set up in front of Ms Watkins' house, it started as a way of making sure excess food at the school didn't go to waste.
It has since become an unincorporated association with a three-person board.
The stall remains, sourcing food from Foodbank, Loaves and Fishes and excess bread from Coles, alongside a small community library box.
A calendar of events was set up, including activities for families that attracted about 120 people, a Christmas event, a first birthday party for GroWaverley and a fishing workshop for kids at Waverley Lake.
As winter approaches, volunteers have put together food and recipe packs using seasonal vegetables.
But one of the biggest changes has been the establishment of a community garden across the road, on a corner of a block of land owned by Housing Tasmania and managed by Community Housing Limited. The premises that once stood there had burnt down years ago.
"We've used it to hold gardening workshops, so families come in, they can make little garden beds of their own, and take the same thing home," Ms Watkins said.
The garden might be small now, but there are plans to make much greater use of the space.
Last month, GroWaverley was successful in its application for a $10,000 Stronger Communities grant from the federal government.
Ms Watkins said the funding would allow them to purchase two shipping containers to combine into one and fit out with computers for community members, a small library and storage, with an undercover area to hold regular events.
GroWaverley has been in regular discussions with the relevant government department to use the land, but the election held up the process.
"It's been slow, painfully slow," Ms Watkins said.
"There is a lot of red tape, there are a lot of forms to fill out, we're at the point where we couldn't do anything because of the election.
"Now we're still waiting.
"We just need to get the land signed off so we can put the shipping containers on the land."
The organisation was confident, however, that it was only a matter of time before Housing Tasmania and CHL gave the green light.
A better future for Waverley
A significant proportion of Waverley was built as broadacre public housing away from the Launceston suburbs, similar to Rocherlea, but neither were provided with public facilities to match the population.
In Rocherlea, it resulted in the establishment of the Northern Suburbs Community Centre which was initially run out of a house by volunteers to fill the gaps for those in need, including food relief.
There were parallels with GroWaverley, and Ms Watkins said they were hopeful of growing into something much bigger.
"We were hoping that within five years we would have enough evidence base out of the shipping containers to justify that the community actually is using it, they needed it, it was useful, so can we have a bigger one?" Ms Watkins said.
"Waverley is about to expand - St Leonards is about to expand towards Waverley - how ever you look at it, we're about to get a whole new subdivision attached to the end of Waverley, so there's more housing going in."
For now, just having space for their shipping containers could be the start they need.
"We're starting with just a small community space. At the moment no businesses can move in, nothing can happen until there's an actual community space here," Ms Watkins said.
"It could be a hall, a building, an anything!
"It might be just an empty hole that we're going to put there, but at least it's an undercover piece of space that the community owns, that they feel comfortable going into, that people from outside can come into as well and meet people."