Baby Bank network moves into Fishponds

December 05 2016

A CHARITY that distributes baby essentials has moved into Fishponds, enabling it to help even more families in need.

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A CHARITY that distributes baby essentials has moved into Fishponds, enabling it to help even more families in need.

Baby Bank Network, which was established last summer, initially operated out of a donated unit in St Philip’s but soon outgrew the space. 

The team moved to a temporary premises in Southmead but has now secured a more permanent home in Fishponds at Stoke View Business Park.

The move was made possible thanks to a grant from Foundation for Children which will cover the charity’s rent and business rates for three years. 

It means that the volunteer-run charity has a secure space to collect and store pre-loved items such as nappies, cots, clothes and pushchairs which its team of volunteers can sort and prepare into packages for babies in need.

A quarter of babies in Bristol live below the poverty line, according to figures from End Child Poverty. 

As part of action against child poverty, the Baby Bank Network was set up in Bristol in June 2015 by two local mums. Distributing pre-loved baby essentials to families in need such as refugees, victims of domestic violence and homeless families, as well as low income families and teenage mums, the charity needs funds to help pay its low overheads, and buy items that can’t be reused such as bottle teats and cot mattresses.

Baby Bank Network’s new home comprises 1,800sq foot of warehouse and office space. It is here that the team of volunteers - mostly mums of young children - can collect, sort, clean, repair and sort the donated items ready for collection by a citywide network of referral partners who deliver the items to the families in need. Referral partners include midwives, health visitors and charity partners.

Since it started collecting and distributing baby essentials last autumn, Baby Bank Network has helped more than 300 families in Bristol. It is now helping the equivalent of one family per day in Bristol and remains run entirely by volunteers.

Baby Bank Network hosted a donations event at its new premises. People were encouraged to drop off good quality baby essentials featured on a wishlist which will be packaged up and sent to families in need. 

Founder Becky Gilbert said: "We’re over the moon to have a more permanent home.

"We’ve been amazed with the sheer amount of donations parents in Bristol have given us and we’d been making do with what we had until now but were operating under the risk of suddenly having nowhere to store and sort all the items people kindly donate. Now we can relax a little and up our efforts to help more babies in Bristol."

Stefan Watts, trustee at Foundation for Children, said: “We are delighted to fund such a well deserving charity that involves the whole community being involved in helping those who need it the most, almost all families have a used high-chair or toy that they could donate. We know the charity will do some amazing things over the coming years and we look forward to visiting them in their new home."

Foundation for Children was set up in 2010 to help tackle child poverty in the UK and give disadvantaged children opportunities they otherwise would not have. It is predominantly a funding body, which supports community organisations pursuing goals which align with the foundation’s aims. It works with employers and businesses to secure funding.

Baby Bank Network has been named Volunteer Team of the Year and Becky Gilbert named Trustee of the Year at the 2016 Voscurs - annual awards run by Voscur, which celebrate the voluntary sector work in Bristol.

Becky said: "It’s been an incredible journey so far and for every family we’re reaching, we know there are hundreds more who need help. Our mission is to help ensure no baby in Bristol goes without the basics. Securing a home allows us to grow as a charity and help more babies in need."

She added: "As well as a huge thanks to Foundation for Children for making this possible, I’d like to say a huge thanks to the volunteers who gave up their weekend to help us with this move - we would be nothing without our volunteers."

For more information, visit: http://www.babybanknetwork.com or search ‘Baby Bank Network’ on Facebook and Instagram or Twitter @BabyBankNetwork