Baby Bank Network to expand as demand for support soars
IT'S all go for Baby Bank Network, which recently helped its 1,000th family with baby essentials they otherwise could not afford which has seen demand surge over the past year.
The Bristol-based charity founded in 2015 operates out of a warehouse in Fishponds and relies on volunteers to collect, sort and prepare packages of baby items for families in need across the city. This includes victims of domestic violence, refugees, teenage mums and street workers.
When it launched, it was helping a few families a week - now that figure is closer to 20.
Trustee Laura Williams said: "Our volunteers work tirelessly to ensure that no family goes without the basics they need for their baby. We're talking nappies, clothes, cots, prams and feeding items as well as toys, books and stair gates. I'm sad to say, the demand shows no sign of letting up and as more and more families struggle with less money we expect to see more and more people turning to us for help."
Currently 100% volunteer-run, Baby Bank Network is now looking to employ its first member of staff - an office manager based in Fishponds - to help deliver a daily service. It is also trialling a delivery service and looking to recruit more volunteers.
The charity works with hundreds of referral partners across the city, from midwives and health visitors to charities such as NextLink, Shelter and Unseen to reach those in need but relies on the generosity of volunteers and referral partners to deliver the service outside of their paid work.
"Most of our volunteers are mums themselves, many of whom also have paid work to fit into their busy lives, yet they put in hours each week to help others," explained Laura.
"And then there's our referral partners who are so grateful they're able to offer tangible help to the families they support but are having to come from across the area to our Fishponds unit to collect the items around their day jobs. Trying to ensure the warehouse is manned when people can pop in to get the packages is a challenge when relying on volunteers."
Laura says that employing an office manager will help ease the ever-increasing pressure on volunteers and will help ensure the unit is regularly open for collections. They will also help launch a delivery pilot scheme to explore taking the packages to referral partners who can then deliver them to the families in need.
Laura said: "The demand is there and we want to meet that. We've come so far with a handful of dedicated volunteers and support from the community but we've still got a long way to go to ensure that no family in Bristol goes without the baby essentials they need."
More details about the part-time office manager job with Baby Bank Network are available at www.babybanknetwork.com You can also find out more about volunteering with Baby Bank Network at the next volunteer open morning on Saturday April 28 at their HQ at the Stoke View Business Park off the main Fishponds Road.