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A Week In The Life Of… Your Baby Bank Donations

Baby Bank Network Bristol Donations

Ever wondered what happens to your donations once you’ve dropped them off at Baby Bank? And how we connect them with families who desperately need them? 

Let’s find out. One of our volunteers in North Somerset follows the journey of some of your recent donations. 

Day 1

Ping! I get a message from a friend asking if she can donate some pre-loved baby items to Baby Bank. Fantastic! The warehouse in Fishponds is a bit of a trek from here, so I collect donations locally and deliver a car load every few weeks.

I check everything she’s offering is on our current wish list (it is – hooray!) and Emily drops them round later that day. There’s some lovely stuff – brand new toiletries (which we always need), little boys’ clothes and shoes, babies’ board books, sleeping bags and baby toys. Everything’s in great condition – there’s even a brand new coat with tags on – and exactly the type of items we love to be able to pass on to a new family. 

Baby Bank Network Bristol Donations

I asked Emily why she chose to donate them to Baby Bank:

‘I’ve been aware of Baby Bank for a number of years, having donated in the past and also through friends who donate. I read an article recently of a man who had arrived in this country with very little, and who was relying on food and clothing banks whilst his daughters were in hospital. This made me think that my children and I would like to support other families where clothes, for example, would be really welcome. 

‘So, whilst having a good sort out of clothes that my children have outgrown or hardly worn, I decided to check the Baby Bank list to see if they were looking for clothes amongst other things, and they were! A friend in the village who is involved with Baby Bank, offered to take the items and hopefully these will be passed to other families who can make good use of them.’ 

They most definitely will.

Baby Bank Network Bristol Donations

Day 2

It’s been a great week for donations, as two more people pass on a full pack of nappies, some more toiletries and a bag of (super clean) muslins.

Baby Bank Network Bristol Donations

It makes such a difference when people carefully sort and wash any donations before handing them on to us. We know how tempting it is to grab a bag out of the loft and just hand it over, but washing and cleaning takes up a huge amount of our volunteers’ time when they could be sending out more orders. We’re so grateful when you can give everything a quick check-over first. 

If the items are in good enough condition that you’d be happy to pass them on to close friends or family, they’ll be perfect for Baby Bank. Just keep your eye on our current wish list so you know what we can accept at any time.

Baby Bank Network Bristol Donations

Day 4

Like many children of Baby Bank volunteers, my son loves helping out with donations. This month we’ve been cleaning up a bag of his toddler shoes and wellies ready to donate, and (just like most 5-year old boys) he was delighted that our latest campaign was related to PANTS, and he chose a couple of new packs to add to our growing pile of donations.  

Baby Bank Network Bristol Donations

Day 5

Delivery day! My main role at Baby Bank is marketing and writing, so I take a day off every month to focus on that side of things, as well as sorting through any donations I’ve collected.

I go through the items that have come in this week, sorting the clothes into age range and type, fastening babygro poppers, and making sure everything is in good shape to be packaged up at the warehouse. 

Look at all the amazing stuff we’ve collected just from this area in a week. 

Baby Bank Network Bristol Donations

I’m about to set off for the warehouse when I get another message from Emily saying she’s also got two stairgates she’d like to donate. Stairgates are like gold dust! We actually had to take them off the order form because we have such a long waiting list, so these will fly out the door. 

I pack everything into the car, cram in the stairgates, and head up to Fishponds. I’ve just missed the volunteers who are there that day but luckily I know where everything lives now, and Sarah, our office manager, gives me a hand. The toiletries were particularly well received – we were completely out of shampoo. 

Baby Bank Network Bristol Donations
Baby Bank Network Bristol Donations
Baby Bank Network Bristol Donations

I catch up with Sarah while I’m here and find out how many orders they’re preparing this week.

‘We currently have around 20 referrals every week, and it’s increasing all the time. Basically our volunteers prepare as many bundles as they can in the time available, and there’s always more to do. 

‘Some orders are super urgent, for example where the family’s moved into emergency accommodation at short notice and Mum has had to leave everything behind – even essentials for her baby. We try to turn those cases around in 24 hours with volunteers putting in extra effort to help a family in crisis. 

‘For other orders we have a bit more notice, sometimes the baby isn’t due for a few months. 

‘With increasing numbers of families needing our help, there’s lots to do. We’re always looking for new volunteers who can spare a couple of hours to help in the warehouse. If anyone reading this is interested, they can email me for more details at volunteers@babybanknetwork.com.’ 

I ask Sarah what items we’re particularly short of. 

‘Double buggies, stairgates and monitors. Plus cots! We’re so short of cots we currently have a 4-week waiting list. We always release a new wish list at the start of the month with the items we’re in need of, and have an Item of the Week on social media so our supporters know what items will really make an immediate difference.’ 

Baby Bank donations helping Bristol families

One week later…

I check back in with Sarah to find out what’s happened to the items from last week. The first donations are already with their new families; the rest have been sorted and will leave the warehouse within the next couple of weeks. It’s one of the main reasons I love supporting Baby Bank – it’s such an efficient service that makes a huge and immediate impact.

We only receive minimal information about the families we help. It’s just enough for us to provide what they need, so we know their basic circumstances and the age of the children involved. 

I ask Sarah who the recent items will be going to. 

‘We’re helping many families who’ve relocated to emergency housing, often in a domestic violence situation, and have absolutely nothing. There are also refugee families and families waiting for Universal Credit who need items like nappies and toiletries to tide them over.  

‘Specifically in the last couple of weeks we’ve helped a family with premature newborn twins, who obviously couldn’t wait a week for our delivery service, so one of our volunteers kindly drove out to North Somerset to deliver their items. They were delighted and relieved at what our supporters and volunteers had been able to provide at such short notice.

‘We helped a teenager who didn’t realise she was pregnant so needed a full package of newborn essentials in less then 24 hours. 

‘This week we also prepared a lovely bundle of sensory toys for a profoundly deaf young child, which our volunteers put together with real thought and care.

‘We do everything we can to meet the needs of these families, when they’re sadly in desperate situations. We’re extremely grateful to all our amazing supporters and volunteers who have helped us over the last 4 years. We couldn’t do this without you.’

Baby Bank Network Bristol team

If you’d like to join the Baby Bank team, we would love to hear from you. Just send us an email at volunteers@babybanknetwork.com. Or can you support us in other ways? Check out our donations page for a few suggestions. Thank you.