MP Kerry visits Baby Bank

August 31 2018
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MP Kerry McCarthy has visited a Fishponds-based charity which helps families in the city experiencing child poverty.

Baby Bank Network, based at Stoke View Business Park, collects used baby items such as prams, cots and clothes and redistributes them to mums, dads and carers.

Ms McCarthy's visit coincided with the charity increasing the age range of children they help to up to three years old.

Volunteer Emma Coombe said: "The purpose of the visit was to show Kerry how many of her constituents are affected by child poverty and just what it looks like in person to be helping all of these families across Bristol who are struggling to provide all of the basic equipment needed to look after a baby or toddler."

Emma said demand on the Baby Bank Network's services were higher than ever and more volunteers were desperately needed to lend a hand.

She said: "We process a huge number of items through our warehouse - clothes, cots, prams, high chairs, stair gates, nappies and toiletries and it's a huge amount of work for the volunteers to process all of the fantastic donations from local people that enable us to provide our service. 

"The items need sorting, cleaning and safety checking before being sorted into individual requests from our "referral partners" - the social workers, health visitors, midwives and so on - who refer families in need to us." 

Emma said she has been volunteering for just over a year: "I find it quite relaxing, completely different to my day job! 

"Volunteering at Baby Bank is completely flexible which is great as a shift worker, as I can't commit to set days or times but just come when I can. You don't need any previous experience and receive training from an experienced volunteer. There are also roles like sorting clothes at home, social media, or making collections from our toiletries donation points around the city that you can help with if being at the warehouse is not for you." 

The charity recently put out a statement on its website highlighting how deprivation is linked to infant death.

It reads: "The UK has one of the highest infant mortality rates in western Europe and we know deprivation plays a huge part in this. The death rate is twice as high for babies in the lowest socio-economic groups of Britain compared to the highest. It’s important for our representatives in parliament to know how deprivation in their constituencies affects the children living there."

The message goes on to state: "It is our hope that in the future, Baby Bank will exist to re-use and recycle, that we will not need to support children born and growing up in poverty. It is our policy makers in government that can make the decision needed to change the life chances of today and tomorrow’s children."

For details on how to donate or how to volunteer, visit www.babybanknetwork.com

You can read more about the MP's visit in her Fishponds Voice column on Page 19º