This year we've been piloting our work in South East London, from a room in Nunhead. We set ourselves the target of reaching 250 families this year; in fact we’re on track to see 500 families before Christmas – a miracle given how small our space is!
1 in 3 of these families are homeless or in temporary accommodation. 1 in 5 are working and still struggling to make ends meet. Nearly half the families we supported didn’t have a safe place for their children to sleep until they visited us.
We are asking for your help to expand our service. We want to double the number of families we meet from across South East London next year. We have two larger sites in North and South West London which not only regift baby items, but also offer advice, mentoring and a lovely welcoming drop in session each week. We think the families we support in South East London deserve this support too.
With your support we can reach more families in need across South East London, and ensure that every child has the start in life they deserve.
We know that there are 8000 children under the age of 5 growing up poor in Southwark and we are determined to reach as many of them as possible, as well as kids in other neighbouring boroughs. Our referrals have risen sharply over the last 12 months and we know there is more need out there than we are currently able to meet.
We want to double the number of families we see next year across South East London. Space is the major barrier to us achieving this goal. This funding would enable us to pay for our new, larger space. This is an essential hurdle to overcome before we can expand our service: we are seeing as many families as we can throughout the week in our current location.
This funding would help us pay the rent and fit-out costs of our new space.
We know our model works. We are tapping into a desire that families have to help one another, and we’re making that as easy as possible by building small, warm communities of parents supporting one another across the capital.
Although we often get called a ‘baby bank’, our model is about community as much as it is redistribution and reuse. Families are invited in to choose the items they'd like for their children, enabling us to offer a warm welcome and additional support, such as advice services. Many of the families we support bring items back for us to gift on again, and around 15 per cent of our volunteers are parents we’ve supported. An independent external evaluation has shown that our approach reduces parental anxiety and increases resilience.
Little Village has grown to be one of the largest baby banks in the UK in the three years since it launched. We've had 6300+ visits from families across London who are struggling with essential kit for babies and pre-schoolers. We expect to see over 2000 children this year alone. All families are referred to us via a network of 1200 professionals from 415 organisations. We achieve our goals through our amazing and talented small staff team and 380 wonderful volunteers. All our staff are mums returning to the workforce after struggling to work thanks to childcare commitments.
In London, one of the wealthiest cities in the world, four in ten children are growing up below the poverty line. Southwark is the fifth worst borough for child poverty in the city, with 37 per cent of all children living below the breadline. Of that figure, the lives of 8000 children under 5 are being blighted by poverty in the borough. That’s the equivalent of 20 primary schools.
These abstract figures translate into bleak realities. Every week we see children without a safe place to sleep; babies with sore bottoms because parents are rationing nappies; children wearing shoes two sizes too small and lacking warm winter clothes. Families are struggling with impossibly high housing and childcare costs, and benefits that have not kept up with the cost of living. 1 in 5 of the parents we see are working and still struggling to make ends meet.
“Little Village has left my heart swollen. I had no idea how or where I was getting the funds for this baby. Thank you” – Parent we supported.
“Thank you for helping us to give our children the start in life they deserve.” - Parent we supported.
“The feeling and help these women give me, I didn’t feel that power and support for a long while” - Parent we supported
“Mums want to help other mums. This is how.” - Volunteer
“I love the direct link between my children and someone else’s living nearby. It doesn’t feel like charity, it feels like gift giving.” - Donor