Baby Bank Network celebrates its second birthday with a big fund-raising party

July 28 2017

A Bristol charity launched by a team of local mums celebrated its second birthday this month, having helped almost 700 babies in the city.

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A Bristol charity launched by a team of local mums celebrated its second birthday this month, having helped almost 700 babies in the city. 

Baby Bank Network invited supporters along to a Family Fun Day on July 1st at Horfield Parish Church Hall, just off Gloucester Road.

Baby groups and kids activity providers such as Diddi Dance, PlayHooray, Baby Sensory and Sing and Sign came along and plenty of fun was had with a bouncy castle, thanks to Bouncers n Shakers, face painting with Water Babies, and an animal-themed fancy dress competition as well as a Teddy Bear's picnic.

The 100% volunteer-run charity collects pre-loved baby essentials and gives them to families in need - this includes victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, refugees and homeless people as well as low income families. In order to reach those babies, the charity works with referral partners such as health visitors, midwives, Shelter, Next Link and Home Start. It was just weeks after its launch two years ago that the group of volunteers had helped their first family and they're now helping at least one family a day in Bristol with plans underway to double this effort. 

Co-founder and Trustee Becky Gilbert said: "It’s been an incredible couple of years. When we started collecting a few bits in a donated storage unit, little did we know just how important our charity would become. We now have a warehouse in Fishponds and are helping hundreds of babies in need every year. I'm so proud of what we've achieved and this party is not just about raising money but about celebrating that with the volunteers and supporters who have made this all possible."

 The 'Growing Baby Bank Network' crowdfunding campaign (http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/baby-bank-network) was launched earlier this month to raise money to help expand and future-proof the service, with a number of rewards on offer in return for pledges. And thanks to the 'Better Bristol' crowdfunding initiative, Baby Bank Network has just secured £6,000 - with a stretch target of £7,500 set ahead of the end of the crowdfunder. The organisation hopes to be able to employ its first member of staff by the end of the year, a crucial step in its aim to ensure that no baby goes without the basics.

 "We're seeing a huge number of referrals coming in at the moment," said Becky, a mum of two. 

“We were fortunate enough to receive a grant from the Foundation for Children (http://www.foundationforchildren.org.uk/) to cover our rent for the next three years but we're totally relying on the goodwill of volunteers to deliver the service - most of whom are busy mums themselves.

 "We wanted to ensure that we could continue helping people and never have to turn a family away. A staff member will help us do this and pave the way for us to take on more referral partners and help more people."

 Referral partner Amanda Bryant, from Unseen www.unseenuk.org, a charity that helps victims of human trafficking said: "Most of our service users are single women with young children who are living in asylum seeking accommodation on a small amount of money to cover food, gas and electric and baby products. They're obviously not in a position to work so are unable to improve their financial situation. It's been a real lifeline to find a charity that has such good quality second hand baby items that we’re able to give the women at no cost to them. They're absolutely thrilled and delighted with the help that Baby Bank Network has given." 

Volunteer and Trustee Laura Williams said: "We've been so fortunate to receive a wealth of donations of baby items from families across Bristol but we also need funds to helps us deliver and grow our service, fundraising events like our birthday party are a big part of this and we'd invite families to come along, have a good time and help us raise some much needed money in the process."