Since its inception in 2015, the Bristol-based Baby Bank Network has helped almost 700 families with baby essentials they otherwise could not afford; this includes victims of domestic violence, refugees, homeless families and those 1/4 children currently living in poverty. 100% volunteer-run, we are currently helping the equivalent of one family day in Bristol with items such as cots, prams, nappies, clothes and toys.
Alleiviating poverty and promoting re-use
The idea came about following the 2015 General Election, when austerity cuts were hitting Bristol families hard. Local mum Becky Gilbert was looking for somewhere to donate her baby stuff to families in need and business owner Eva Fernandes met families in need but did not know how to help them; the duo decided to do something about it and Baby Bank Network was born. Two years and thousands of volunteer hours later and Baby Bank Network has become an important charity tackling poverty and promoting reuse. And as another election approaches, the need is greater than ever.
What our referral partners say:
"Our community midwives see women who are really worried about not being able to provide for their baby. This will really help ease the pressure and enable new mums to enjoy their babies. It's nice to do something constructive. Quite a lot of what we do is signposting and talking but this is something tangible, which is just brilliant." - Baby Bank Network referral partner
"Can I just express my sincere thanks and admiration for the service provided by Baby Bank Network. The referral process was simple and my joy at having witnessed 'mum's' joy, immeasurable. Keep up the good work!" - Baby Bank Network referral partner
What the mums we help say:
"I had some stuff given to me today via midwife from yourselves and I am so happy with just how generous you are! Personally saying thank you and that your help is so appreciated." - Baby Bank Network recipient
"We're a low income family and when we found out we were expecting twins, we just couldn't afford to buy two of everything - even second-hand. Baby Bank Network has been brilliant, they've given us everything we need and I'll be giving it back when we're finished with it." - Baby Bank Network recipient
The generosity of local families, donating good quality pre-loved baby items they no longer need, has been overwhelming; but we are limited by space and the time that volunteers (mostly mums themselves) can donate which means there's a cap on the number of people we can help.
Our waiting list is growing and we want to ensure that no family goes without, but we desperately need funds to help us meet this demand. We work with a network of almost 300 referral partners across the city but know we could easily double this number as the demand is there; we have the means and the know how to reach those babies in need - but we need more financial support so we can be sure we don't have to turn anyone away.
We recently launched our first partner organisation, Bairnecessities Baby Bank in Aberdeenshire, and are in talks with other mums across the country about launching baby banks in their area. The need is not confined to Bristol and while there are independent organisations in some other cities and towns, for most families struggling there is nowhere to turn.
With your help, we can help twice as many families in Bristol and expand our operation further.
Thanks to our brilliant volunteers, we can keep overheads relatively low but there are some unavoidable costs associated with delivering this service and without investment in the development of the charity, we will be limited in what we can achieve. We want to help more families, by taking on more referral partner and helping launch branches in other places and are ready to invest in the future of Baby Bank Network.
Buying mattresses and bottle teats
* While we've been fortunate to secure donations of items such as cots, and feeding equipment, there are certain items, such as mattresses and bottle teats that we cannot give out second hand and the more requests for help we get, the more money we need to raise to cover these costs
Investing in people
* Our volunteers have put in tens of thousands of hours to build Baby Bank Network, but all are juggling motherhood and paid work alongside this. As we grow and help more families, it's simply not sustainable to rely solely on volunteers and we'd like to recruit a part time project manager to ensure we can deliver our service indefinitely
Covering our costs
* There are inevitable set up costs that go with lauching a baby bank - legal and infrastructure costs such as web hosting etc - and we want to be in a position to be able to support other volunteers to set up partner organisations across the UK, drawing upon our knowledge and experience and access to funds could help fast track these
From top left: Ian Walker bee canvas, cover of Guide to Bristol, knitted bees, Carys Tait's 'Spring Trumpet' and 'A Friendly Lift', Laura Garner's bee print, Martin Turner's 'Busy', Rob Wheeler's bee print and Claire Barnard's BBN design.
We've teamed up with a range of supporters to create a selection of rewards (see some of these in photo above and full info in boxes on right) in return for your donation alongside some virtual rewards - the satisfaction of knowing exactly what you're helping to fund. If we can hit half of our target this June, Better Bristol can match fund the rest - meaning your donation is worth twice as much to us. There's never been a better time to donate to help #babiesineed
Thank you for your support!
Team Baby Bank Network