This week in Bristol and me, we speak to Becky Gilbert, co-founder of the Baby Bank Network
Baby Bank Network takes in good condition baby items people no longer need and hands them out to families who can’t afford to buy them for themselves. They might be living in poverty or another disadvantaged circumstance – referrals come from health visitors, midwives and food banks, charities working with homelessness, domestic violence, sex workers and refugees. We provide clothes, toys, books, prams, highchairs, all those baby essentials a lot of us take for granted.
It began when I was on maternity leave, and couldn’t find a way of getting things my daughter was growing out of to people who needed them. Instead, I found responses from children’s centres, the council, etc, saying: “We desperately need them but have nowhere to store them, we can’t give them out.” It seemed blindingly obvious there should be some middleman – or woman! – offering this service. It kept me awake at night.
Eva Fernandes, the co-founder, was looking at the issue more from a reuse angle. We started BBN and things snowballed. People are so kind, they give a huge amount.
People don’t have a concept of how many families are really struggling. The statistics are shocking: more than one in four children in Bristol live in poverty, and that doesn’t include people living in other disadvantaged circumstances.
We built this from scratch in such a short period of time – our volunteers should be so proud of themselves. We have roles in many areas: sorting in the warehouse, fundraising, social media, email monitors, lots more. We don’t struggle getting donations in, but getting them out of the warehouse. The key is more volunteers – with more of a delivery service, we’d be able to help so many more families.
Babybank Network hosts a volunteer open morning at its Fishponds warehouse on Sat 24 Feb; www.babybanknetwork.com