It is estimated that more than 26,000 children in East Sussex are living in poverty and a baby bank that aims to help struggling families has just moved to the Uckfield area.
Baby2Baby collects donations of new, and quality used, baby clothing, and other essential items, and redistributes them to people in need.
The aim is to provide relief from financial hardship and to improve the environment of the family.
Referrals come from professional partners including health visitors, children’s centre key workers, social workers, food banks, and refuges, on behalf of the families they support.
And the help is much appreciated. One professional told Baby2Baby: “I have just been to visit (mum) and she cried when I told her what you are doing for her.”
Bundles are put together specifically to meet the needs of the family, and the person who makes the referral collects the bundle and gives it to the family.
Items include cots – new mattresses and bedding are gifted to go with them – prams, pushchairs, high chairs, clothing bundles, nappies and toiletries.
There is no cost attached to the service either for the professional who refers, or to the family who receives the bundle.
A family can be referred as many times as needed as their baby develops and needs change. There is no criteria to fulfil.
The two mums who run the project live in Crowborough and really care about the feeling families experience when they receive gifted bundles.
They put each pack together carefully and include a gift-wrapped item, or reusable storage bags.
One of the two, Hannah Powell said: “We hope families feel they have received a gift from the community in their time of need, a gesture which can instil hope and improved wellbeing for families in the most challenging of circumstances.”
And Leila Parker who has worked with Hannah since the launch of the project in January 2018 said they were moved by the generosity of people donating.
Since June 2018 the pair have helped more than 80 families by gifting essential baby items to make their immediate circumstances more manageable, while also recognising them as being worthy of kindness and support from those around them.
Hannah and Leila are currently crowdfunding to help pay for the new Baby2Baby storage premises at High Hurstwood. The additional public space will enable them to take on volunteers, and have proper opening times.
It will also allow them to go ahead with plans to provide items for older children later this year.
Baby2Baby says on its crowdfunding page: “The long term impact of providing hope and relief to families experiencing hardship shouldn’t be undervalued.
“We’ve supported families experiencing low income, homelessness (or risk of), mental health issues, domestic abuse, substance misuse, as well as care leavers, single parents, young parents, migrants, asylum seekers, and women who have been trafficked.
“Many of these families are isolated and vulnerable and we are hugely grateful to those choose to donate to our cause for ‘seeing’ these families, for thinking of them, and for showing kindness at a time they need it most.”
Hannah, a social worker, was on maternity leave when she realised how quickly her son George was growing out of his clothes.
She discovered there were no baby banks in the area, and in May 2018 she and Leila held their first event at Crowborough Community Centre for people to make donations and Baby2Baby was under way.
If you would like to help please visit the Baby2Baby and beyond Crowdfunder page.