A lifeline for families in crisis: Leeds Baby Bank

Leeds Baby Bank is a local charity that supports families in and around the Leeds area who are in need of urgent baby essentials such infant formula, clothes and baby equipment. Thanks to a Jimbo’s Fund grant awarded by the Foundation, Leeds Baby Bank were able to  move to larger premises allowing them to accept and store more donations, process more referrals, and help a greater number of families in crisis. Helping to sustain this important organisation, with the Foundation’s support, over 750 referrals were made last year, directly helping 1500 people.

This Leeds Baby Week 2018, we’ve caught up with Faye from Leeds Baby Bank who tells us more: 

 

Can you tell us a little more about the project?

Leeds Baby Bank offers urgent support to expectant parents and families with children aged between 0-4 years who are struggling financially to meet their needs in the short term. This may be due to domestic violence, immigration, benefit cuts or sanctions, illness or disability, there are so many reasons we receive referrals it would be impossible to list them all, but most of the referrals we receive are for service users who are vulnerable and have no recourse to public funding.

We offer everything one might need for a child within the catchment age group, from food, sanitary products and nappies to pushchairs, cots and feeding equipment. Each referral is assessed individually by the referrer (social services, midwives, health visitors and so on) and the items requested are matched to that person’s immediate need. Our aim is to provide the item’s that often the food banks don’t have or have very limited supplies of. We aim to be not a long-term support but a safety net for those in crisis or who are awaiting applications, who have been sanctioned or unable to apply for public funding.

 

What need is there in the city?

Leeds Baby Bank was set up in January 2017 as the Co-Founders Chantal Nogbou & Lynsey Jayes identified there was gap in the support offered to families with younger children when they were using food banks across the city. The demand for food banks in Leeds is dramatically increasing and further support is needed. Food banks are a lifeline to those using them but for families with young children it’s not just food items they struggle to provide for their children but essentials such as nappies, toiletries, clothing and equipment.

Leeds Baby Bank is run solely by volunteers and has grown hugely in such a short time. We currently have two further trustees, Faye Freeman and Emma Cosgrove who have helped develop and manage the charity and its day to day running. We have 9 dedicated volunteers and drivers and are lucky enough to have the help of local companies on their team building days and work experience college students from time to time.

 

What difference has Leeds Community Foundation’s support made?

Leeds Community Foundation has been our biggest financial supporter to date and without Jimbo’s fund we would not have been able to take on our first premises to store all our donations. Knowing we have most of the first years rent covered has lifted a financial burden off the founders and trustees. Not having to fundraise to cover our rent in the first few months of setting up this new charity has allowed us to move forward with other projects and focus on getting referrals out quickly. Thanks to our grant we now have a successful volunteer program, our fabulous team of volunteers from across the city come to our unit and sort through donations and deliver emergency referrals to families in Leeds. Leeds Community Foundation have really helped us secure a future for this fast-growing charity and we cannot thank them enough.

 

What difference do you think Leeds Baby Bank has made, do you have a story in particular you could tell?

Our charity has had a positive impact on all the families we have helped and we are very proud of the support we have provided to families across Leeds. The feedback we have received from families and referrers has been extremely encouraging.

Here’s an example of the support we provided a family with. We received a message from a desperate mother who had fled domestic violence, she was living in a safe house and had nothing for her children apart from a small bag of clothes. We advised her how to be referred to us and once we received the referral our army of volunteers sorted it out and we swiftly delivered 2 full cars of donations. The family were very thankful and sent us this message.

” Thank you so so much for all the stuff. My daughter is delighted with the clothes she’s been doing a fashion show and is so happy. My baby is settled in the new crib and I’m putting all the stuff away. I really can’t thank you enough I’m overwhelmed x ”