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Baby Bank Network co-founders Eva Fernandes and Becky Gilbert

Eight months since its inception, Baby Bank Network has just received registered charity status – which should allow it to raise more money and help more people.

Established following a conversation between two Bristol mums – Eva Fernandes and Becky Gilbert – Baby Bank Network quickly became a proactive charitable organisation helping collect and distribute pre-loved baby essentials to families in need.

This month, after launching an application to The Charity Commission in October, it passed a major milestone to become a registered charity and will now continue to build on the good work already done in the city and beyond.

As a registered charity, Baby Bank Network can now claim Gift Aid on donations – meaning that every pound donated will stretch that little bit further. As well as collecting donations of quality baby items to give to families in need, the charity relies on monetary donations to cover items which cannot be pre-used – such as mattresses and bottle teats. It also needs to cover rent on a storage unit, where it can collect, clean, sort and store items before they’re given to the families in need. Currently operating out of a temporary home in Southmead, the charity is desperately seeking its forever home.

Baby Bank Network

Volunteers at Big Yellow Storage.

Baby Bank Network is now urgently seeking fundraising volunteers to help it secure more funds and safeguard the future of the organisation, which hopes to help at least 366 families in 2016 – the equivalent of one every day. The volunteer-led organisation has a team of almost 50 regular volunteers, helping with collecting and packing items, liaising with referral partners, promoting the work done and overseeing the fundraising effort.

Co-founders Eva (Chair) and Becky (Secretary) are joined as Trustees of the charity by Treasurer Melissa Burgers. The latest news comes just weeks after the duo were announced as Prime Minister David Cameron’s Points of Light – a daily honour given to people making a difference in the community. They will be seeking more Trustees this year as well as Patrons who can help promote the cause.

Co-founder and Trustee Eva Fernandes said: “This is a very important moment for Baby Bank Network – it opens the door to a whole new world of fundraising and helping people and we’re delighted to have been recognised for the charitable work we’ve been doing. We’ve learnt so much in the eight months we’ve operated and are continuing our journey with this vital status.

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“We now need people with fundraising skills to help us access the grants as a charity we can now apply to,  to allow us to get our bigger and permanent home and employ staff to manage the day to day referrals in Bristol and UK growth process – to bring on board other regions and help them establish local baby banks across the UK.

“We want people to share what we do and engage with us – Baby Bank Network has got the potential to prevent so much hardship and stress in what should be someone’s most blissful time with a new baby.”

Fellow Co-Founder and Trustee Becky Gilbert added: “Through an established referral system we can get the help where it’s needed. It’s been an incredible journey. We’ve all worked so hard to get here, especially our volunteer legal eagle Nicola Manclark, who helped guide us through the entire process of applying to become a registered charity. We couldn’t have done it without her! We’ve created strong foundations and now we need to build on this.”