Thanks to funding from Karbon homes, the North Shields Baby Bank has launched at St John’s Church in Percy Main, to support parents who are struggling to access basic baby essentials.
The service will provide families in need with vital provisions, such as nappies, wipes, infant clothing, and baby formula.
The Baby Bank, which is the first of its kind in the local authority area, is the result of a partnership between the team from St John’s Church and Karbon Homes.
Reverend Lee Cleminson, Vicar at St John’s Church, said: “We’ve all heard of food banks and know what a valuable lifeline they are for people struggling. However, as a result of parents discreetly contacting the vicarage, asking for help, there was a clear need for a similar scheme which supplied basic baby items.
“One mother who came to the church for help explained that she was having to choose between charging her electric meter and buying nappies for her beautiful newborn baby boy. She was desperate and said she never, ever thought she’d see herself in this position.
“It was a conversation with Melanie Rees from Karbon Homes, our Community Connector for the area, which really got the ball rolling. Despite having to postpone the initial launch of the service because of the pandemic, we’ve spent time developing connections with local organisations in the area, such as The Cedarwood Trust in Meadow Well and Family Gateway in Wallsend, which are both referring parents and helping us to reach as many families as we can.”
The project secured £4,935 of funding from Karbon’s Community Grants Fund, which has covered the set up and initial running costs.
Melanie added: “It’s been fantastic to work with Reverend Lee and the team of volunteers at St John’s Church to bring forward the idea for the baby bank and get the project off the ground.
“The need for services like this is greater than ever before due to the impact the pandemic has had on people’s finances. The service is a fantastic support mechanism, ensuring every child has the essential items they need to thrive, and really means the world to those who benefit from it.”
To date, thanks to kind donations from the community and support from Karbon, the baby bank has been able to help eight struggling parents who have fallen on hard times, providing baby bundles containing a Moses basket, nappies, wipes, bedding, clothing, baby baths and other baby essentials.
A Baby Bank user told the News Guardian: “I was caught out when my baby girl arrived early and as I was discharged from hospital, a local community worker contacted the Baby Bank at St John’s on my behalf as I had nothing.
“The volunteers provided me with the most beautiful baby bundle. I was so overwhelmed with what had been done, not only for me but for my innocent baby girl. If it wasn’t for the help of the Baby Bank, I don’t know what I would have done or where I would have turned.”