Kind-hearted mums show the difference a nappy can make

It began with a simple idea, but quickly snowballed into a movement of women bonded by the desire to help out mothers less fortunate than themselves.

The concept for The Nappy Collective came to Sandra Jacobs while she was doing volunteer work at a Melbourne women's refuge. After seeing mothers in times of crisis struggling to provide the basic needs of their babies and toddlers, Sandra was motivated to do something to help.

"She had a few spare nappies her daughter had grown out of at home and was wondering what she could do with them,'' fellow TNC committee member Moran Dvir explains. "She realised lots of people probably have some leftover unused nappies in the car or at a grandparent's house and if she could get them all together and donate them to women's shelters it would be a big help for mums in need.

"These women have often fled terrible situations and have nothing. Some mothers use spare clothes as nappies for their babies. Others leave their babies in wet nappies and only change them if they are soiled, which leads to all kinds of health issues for the children. "

And so TNC held it's first drive for unwanted nappies with one drop off in Melbourne in October last year. Organisers were delighted to receive more than 1500 nappies during the two week collection period and realised the collective had the potential to grow.

TNC this week launched its second collection drive with 19 drop-off centres in Melbourne and Sydney. Organisers have received calls from women across the country wanting to help out and set up collection centres in their hometowns. They have also had enquiries from people in London, Singapore and Belgium wanting to learn about how the collective works.

"I think mothers like knowing they are helping other mothers through a hard time in their lives,'' Moran said. "It's hard to imagine how these mothers feel. I've got four kids and I can't imagine how  bad I would feel if I couldn't provide them with a basic essential like nappies. We just want to relieve some of that stress for them so they can start rebuilding their lives."

The outstanding work of Sandra, Moran and other TNC committee members was rewarded when the group was announced as winner of the 2013 Nexus Innovator of the Year Award.The award, funded by ANZ Private and the Nexus Australian Youth Summit, included a $10,000 prize which the group plans to use to help grow TNC across the country.

TNC will hold three collection drives each year and plans to be operating in Perth and Brisbane, in addition to Sydney and Melbourne, by the end of this year.

They do not take cloth nappies as women in crisis accommodation often have no way to launder them, but they do accept swimming nappies.

The current collection period runs until March 2. For more information and drop-off points in Sydney and Melbourne go to: www.thenappycollective.com