Bring in a Book for Baby Bank Week 2016 
May 16, 2016
Bringing up baby – the cost of a baby in its first year
July 21, 2016

We are one! We made it. A whirlwind journey from an idea to a full blown charity helping the venquivalent of one family a day.

We launched in Bristol in June 2015, with the aim to ease the symptoms of child poverty and promote re-use in Bristol. We soon had a core team of 10 volunteers helping making the vision a reality. Within two months we’d delivered our first referral, within 6 months we’d helped 100 families and within 8 months had become a registered charity, shortlisted for several awards along the way. Now we are one and looking forward to growing the network even more.

Baby Bank Network exists because of a team of volunteers, mostly mums of young children, who’ve helped collect and distribute more than 1,000 items to almost 250 families – including prams, cots, clothes, toys and nappies.

We work with 150 referral partners – including health visitors and midwives, Homestart and Shelter helping us to reach the most vulnerable families – including refugees, victims of domestic violence and homeless families as well as low income families and teenage mums.

Alice recently became a mum of twins. As one of many low income families in Bristol, she was struggling to afford or find everything she needed for her babies, so she turned to Baby Bank Network. She was given a package of baby essentials, which she returned to the charity after use. “I didn’t expect to be having twins and while we managed to get some hand me downs and buy some bits,” said Alice, “We’re a low income family and couldn’t afford to buy everything new but we weren’t quite prepared for everything we needed. We were desperate and Baby Bank really helped us out.”

Originally operating out of a donated storage unit at Big Yellow Storage in St Phillips, we are now using a supplementary unit in Southmead but are still desperately seeking a permanent home in the city.

“It’s been an incredible first year,” said Co-Founder Becky Gilbert. “We’ve shown what you can do with a good idea and a large dose of goodwill. We won’t be stopping here. Now we’ve achieved full charity status and have good processes in place to collect and distribute our items, we’ll be focusing on finding our forever home and expanding the network to other cities and towns in the UK.”

Please join us for our birthday celebration on Sunday 12th June. We’re the official charity partner at Make Sunday Special and are looking after the tea and cake stand and children’s area. We’d love to see you there! We have lots of activities for your little ones to enjoy and an amazing selection of prizes in our fundraising raffle.   You can find more details on our events page.

We also have a special nursery fundraiser – with nurseries across the city and beyond taking part in our ‘Bring A Book For Baby Bank Network’ event whereby children are encouraged to donate one of their books as well as a financial donation. Thanks to Stationhouse Nursery, Portishead, Clifton Tots, Pooh Corner and Torwood House nurseries in Redland, Westbury Park and Clifton, The Green Door in St Andrews, The Rocking Horse in Warmley, Manor House in Westbury on Trym and Clyde House / Ashgrove Park in Bishopston for taking part.

Co-Founder Eva Fernandes added: “We’re delighted to be celebrating our first birthday safe in the knowledge we are now an established charity. We’ve been overwhelmed with donations of items to pass on to babies in need and have enough donated baby clothes to deliver hundreds of referrals, but we rely on financial donations on top of this to be able to buy items such as mattresses and bottle teats – which  are not safe to give out second hand.

“The more referrals we do, the more costs we incur in terms of collecting, storing and cleaning the items. We’ve got a brilliant team of volunteers and are delivering the service very efficiently, but we always need more funds to help cover our overheads and secure our forever home. Fundraisers such as these are vital for us to build on the great work we’ve already done.”