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By Izzi Tippetts.

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Here at Baby Bank Network, we’re excited when we hear of inspiring ways in which local communities are helping to tackle child poverty and social deprivation – after all, the Baby Bank Network was born out of one simple idea and the ambition to create a service that would help alleviate child poverty and support families in need in Bristol.

And while it’s easy to get bogged down by disheartening statistics, we’d like to take a minute to acknowledge some of the more entrepreneurial, ground-breaking, and utterly inspiring work being carried out in countries throughout the world right now:

  • Room to Read, Nepal
    In the words of Room to Read, “world change starts with educated children”. With a focus on literacy and gender equality in education, Room to Read aims to improve health, enhance development, encourage democratic participation and enable active citizenship. Recognising the importance of understanding local customs and adapting to local challenges, all their operations are run entirely by local staff. Initially founded in Nepal to help rural communities build schools and establish libraries, Room to Read now operates in thousands of communities across Africa and Asia and has distributed over 18 million books, benefitting over 10 million children worldwide.
  • Milk Banks, Brazil
    One of the first countries to establish milk banks, Brazil has invested in a world-leading system for collecting donated breast milk and providing it to babies in need. Acting as a vital resource for at-risk babies who are premature, severely malnourished, underweight at birth, or orphaned, Brazil’s network of milk banks has been credited with greatly reducing the rates of infant mortality. Set up by João Aprígio Guerra de Almeida, who set out to campaign against the selling of breastmilk by impoverished mothers in the 1980’s, the milk bank system has become a model for similar schemes across the world, including in Europe. There are now 213 milk banks across Brazil, which help to save the lives of 300,000 new-borns in the country every year.
  • Baby Boxes, Finland
    Having received a lot of media attention in recent years, the Finland tradition of a gift from the government to all expectant mothers, has been going strong since the 1930s. Designed to give all children an equal start to life, the maternity boxes include bodysuits, a sleeping bag, bathing products, nappies, and even bedding and a small mattress so that the box can be used as a crib. It is widely acknowledged that Finland’s baby boxes have helped the country achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates – such is its impact that it looks like a form of the Baby Box is to be introduced in the UK, with a first trial of 800 boxes being given to new parents in the hope to lower Britain’s own infant mortality rate.
  • Barefoot College, India
    An innovative concept developed by two Indian men – one from a rural village, the other a graduate – the Barefoot College is “built by, and for, the rural poor”, and has successfully educated over 7000 children each year by making academic subjects relevant to rural lifestyles. One of the key aims of the scheme is to empower children to become active participants and leaders in their community, with an approach that is both adaptable and inclusive. For instance, at its flagship campus in Rajasthan, classes are scheduled in the evening by solar light, allowing for the fact that during the day most children are expected to work in the fields or help at home. Already having placed 14,000 teachers in government schools and established night schools in 700 villages, the Barefoot’s holistic approach has had a global impact, and now operates in 80 countries throughout the world.
  • FAWE, Africa
    FAWE – Forum for African Women Educationalists – works in 33 African countries to specifically empower girls and women through education that is gender-responsive. Arming girls with knowledge, skills and opportunity, FAWE seeks to improve the livelihoods of entire communities, enabling women to become influencers and decision-makers. Working in the face of material deprivation, and social and political exclusion, FAWE has increased rates of girls’ enrolment, retention and completion of school across Sub-Saharan Africa. Achieving exceptional levels of success since it was founded in 1992, FAWE has ranked in the Global Journal’s top 100 NGOs multiple times.

Feeling inspired? If you’d like to become involved with the work Baby Bank Network does to help local children and families in need, or perhaps have an exciting new fundraising idea, we’d love to hear from you – get in touch with us at info@babybanknetwork.com.