Baby Bank to help those in need

August 03 2015

FAMILIES in need are able to receive donations of baby items, thanks to a new 'Baby Bank' set up by local women Eva Fernandes and Becky Gilbert.

FAMILIES in need are able to receive donations of baby items, thanks to a new 'Baby Bank' set up by local women Eva Fernandes and Becky Gilbert.

Launched on July 11, Baby Bank Bristol has already secured hundreds of donations and is embarking on a pilot scheme to distribute these to families in need via health visitor referrals. 

Overwhelmed with the initial response, co-founders Eva, owner of Born baby shop in Gloucester Road, and Becky, an epidemiologist from Bishopston, are already looking for a larger warehouse to house all the items.

The women met online after recognising a need for such an organisation, but failing to find one in the city.

Eva said: “It’s shocking that families in this country have to go without. Bristol has an unacceptable level of child poverty and we want to help redress the balance by providing every family with the essential items they need to raise a baby.

“Babies grow fast. In their first year they will require two or three whole new sets of clothes. For some, this is a financial burden they can’t manage.

For others, they have an abundance of baby clothes and items that may get passed on to friends and family to be reused, given to charity shops or thrown away.

“If you and your baby no longer need it, we’ll give it to someone who does.”

The Baby Bank is looking for items such as cots, prams and stair gates, as well as clothes, slings and nappies. Goods are then distributed to parents who cannot afford to buy these items new or second hand.

Within its first month, Baby Bank Bristol, located in the Big Yellow Storage unit in St Philips, has recruited almost 20 volunteers – many being new mothers on maternity leave – to help deliver its aims. But it is still looking for more help in co-ordinating the donations, distribution and promotion.

Becky, who is on maternity leave from improving screening for prostate cancer as part of her postdoctoral for Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s all moving so fast, which just proves the need for something like this. We’ve been amazed by the support and momentum we’ve already had but we’ll soon be in a position where we have more donations than space and already have more tasks than people so are very eager to hear from anyone else interested in getting involved.”

Eva's connections through Born have resulted in a financial donation, as well as goods, from global baby brand Lansinoh. She says that she is keen to collaborate with more ethical and sustainable companies and organisations who share similar aims.

Smaller donations can be left at Born during opening hours, with both smaller and larger donations now being accepted by the Big Yellow Storage Company in St Philips.

It is hoped that more local drop off points will open up in the future.

The Baby Bank also welcomes monetary donations to help with the running costs and to purchase items which it may be short of, such as new mattresses.

Independent baby banks are already proving very successful in other cities across the UK, including Baby Basics in Sheffield, Baby Bank Central in Birmingham and Stripey Stork in Surrey.

This is the first official Baby Bank in Bristol and it is hoped that it will become an umbrella organisation for baby banks across the country. The women are already working with a team in Exeter.

Anyone interested in getting involved should contact the Bristol Baby Bank via email: babybanknetwork@gmail.com

Becky Gilbert & Eva Fernandes