To help support the most vulnerable families in the UK, The Duchess of Cambridge has brought together nineteen British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide. Her Royal Highness helped to unpack donations at Baby Basics UK in Sheffield, before talking to parents about how baby banks have provided them with invaluable support when they have needed it most.
Baby banks aim to support and empower families by ensuring every child has the essential items they need to thrive. In the UK, they are powered primarily by volunteers and typically run on professional referral from services such as health visitors, midwives and social workers.
Following private visits to Baby Basics West Norfolk where The Duchess heard more about the baby bank’s need for donations, Her Royal Highness spearheaded a drive for donations of items for babies from brands and high street retailers. In total, nineteen brands have donated items to Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities, who operate baby banks across the UK.
The Duchess of Cambridge said: “Over recent months, I have heard from families who have been supported by baby banks through the most difficult of times and I have been deeply moved by their stories. Having somewhere to turn to for support is important for all families, and baby banks work every day, up and down the country, to provide immediate, tangible and practical help for parents and carers when they are most in need. Baby banks are driven by incredible volunteers, demonstrating the power of community spirit in supporting families and coming together to raise the next generation. Thanks to the generosity of the companies taking part in this initiative, baby banks across the UK will be able to support even more families through this particularly challenging time.”
A 2018 survey estimated that one in 100 families in England with children under five have visited a baby bank , and statistics from a new survey conducted by Little Village shows that baby banks across the UK have found a substantial increase in the use of their services during the coronavirus pandemic. However, many baby banks have been unable to accept second hand items at this time and the Little Village research shows that 77% of baby banks desperately need more nappies, mattresses and other products. It also reveals that 9 in 10 baby banks say the outbreak of COVID-19 is making it harder to support families in the way they would want.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s engagement follows on from her longstanding work in supporting families and her previous visits to Baby Basics West Norfolk where she packed up moses baskets with supplies and spoke to families who had received support from the charity. The Duchess helped unload a pallet of deliveries and sort donations before speaking with families about their experience of baby banks.
In addition to hearing from families who have accessed support from baby banks, The Duchess has also spoken to organisations throughout lockdown that support vulnerable families, hearing about the impact of COVID-19 and how the sector is providing essential help and support. In recent weeks, she has held calls with Family Action, Home Start, Action for Children, London Early Years Foundation, Cocoon Family Support, East London Research School, and Coram about how they are continuing to support and nurture families and children throughout this challenging time.
Bloom and Blossom, Boden, Bramley, Childs Farm, Frugi, Green People (Organic Babies), John Lewis, JoJo Maman Bébé, Kit & Kin , Kokoso Baby, M&S, Mamas & Papas, Matalan, My Little Coco, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, The White Company and Trotters have all generously donated items such as nappies, bedding and clothing to Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities. In addition, DHL Express has provided logistical services for the dissemination of donations to baby banks across the UK.