From guest blogger Eleanor aka Bristol Parent.
I’m a late in-comer to Bristol, a few years ago. I lived in Henleaze until I was about three, before spending my childhood elsewhere and the first 15 years of my career in London. Until we moved here, I thought that all of Bristol looked like Clifton, and that everybody lived in one of those houses, or in a nice coloured house on a hill.
The reality is really different, I know that now. In October 2014, the charity End Child Poverty found that 26.44 per cent of Bristolian children live in poverty once housing costs are taken into account. So that’s just over one in four kids that don’t have things that most of us take for granted. And, if you’re a parent you’ll know the truth – if these kids don’t have enough, it’s not because their parents are deliberately depriving them. It’s not for lack of trying. Most of these children’s parents will be trying their best to provide.
You have a tenner and both you and your daughter need a new coat – who gets the new coat? She does, of course. You haven’t got much milk left in the carton and you’re gasping for a coffee this morning but your son wants cornflakes, so he gets the milk, right?
What if there’s no milk this week though, or no tenner? The need is still there, and the want. We are not talking about denying your toddler a second packet of Pom Bears here, we’re talking about denying her food at all. Because for some Bristol parents it’s either food, or rent; or food, or nappies; electric, or formula. Don’t kid yourself, this is happening, probably within a mile of you. Bristol is a city of complex micro-economic issues and poorer families are part of the social fabric.
The Baby Bank Network puts help and support into the hands of mothers and fathers and carers directly. It gives prams, cots, nappies, clothes. The things we all spent hours cruising the internet for, to find the best, the safest, the ‘must haves’. These are the things that some families just cannot afford. Could you manage without a pushchair? What about if you only had one bottle, and no steriliser?
When it receives a call for help, the Baby Bank Network hand picks, thoughtfully and with guidance from key workers, midwives and social workers, the best kit required, just like you did when your baby was on its way. This gives support, encouragement and respect to those in need, not just material things.
The question was never, why support the Baby Bank Network, for me, it’s why wouldn’t you? If you’ve got things in your loft that you’re keeping ‘just in case someone needs them’, I encourage you to take a deep breath and expand your perception of who that someone could be, to include more Bristol parents than just the ones you know by name.
You can read more from Eleanor on her Bristol Parent blog http://thebristolparent.com
And you can donate to Baby Bank Network here: https://localgiving.org/donation/babybanknetwork