PLEASE NOTE: This blog post is from 2013 and we no longer run a baby bank at Gateway. If you have items to donate, you could try Birmingham Baby Bank Central.
Food banks have been in the news more than ever this year and recently the papers have picked up on the idea of “baby banks”, like ours, which collect and distribute baby products to families in need.
Our Pregnancy Outreach Workers have been busy this week making up Christmas hampers for their clients… but they don’t just give out parcels at Christmas. There’s an increasing need for donated toiletries, nappies and baby food all year round. Many families are on a low income that has stayed low as prices have gone up. Many are eligible for benefits but experience delays in payment. Some are between homes – fleeing domestic abuse, or seeking asylum. All are trying to give their babies the best possible start despite their own vulnerability and needs.
Here are some comments from clients who have been helped by parcels from our POW service over the last few months, whether that’s from our own bank of donations, or with a lift to one of Birmingham’s other foodbanks, like those at Narthex’s Sparkhill Food Bank or the Trussell Trust’s Birmingham Central Foodbank.
Making a difference – in our clients’ own words
In August, Daniele* said:
You accompany me to charity to get food parcel and baby things and which was very helpful thank you so much.
today you came to my new flat that i moved into on saturday an brought me lots of baby things an a food parcel thankyou for everything you have done im realy greatful.
and Nishat* said:
You gave me book on pregnancy and leaflets on healthy diet. You have also informed me that you have been able to obtain a moses basket and will drop it of later. I feel so much better knowing that my child will have the necessary items. I was worried because i have left work and made a claim for benefits just recently. My claim is still being assesed and at the moment i have no money. You have been kind enough to supply me with a food parcel aswell. I feel so much better knowing that you are their to support me.
In September, Fozia* said:
Mariam came and brought me food parcel which is good as i have had no benefit for 2 weeks.she also brought me a moses basket changing mat, bath bouncer and clothes for baby thank you very much for everything
and Husna* said:
You gave me a food parcel. This has helped me so much as i live by myself these food parcels will last about a week. I cant thank you enough, now i can use the little amount of money i have to pay a instalment on the water, gas and electric bill.
in October Tamsin* said:
You went with me to Narthex for clothes and items for baby such as blankets, coat, moses basket, bath, baby gym, toiletries for my hospital stay, steriliser, nappies and changing mat. You also went with me to a charity shiop to buy a car seat and bouncer from gateway hardship fund. Thank you so much Miriam I do not know what I would have done without you’re support.
in November, Laila* said:
My benefit claim is still in process. I did not have much money, my pow has bought me two bags of food aswell as baby items such as clothes. God bless you all. In hard times you were there
and, just two weeks ago, teenager Gemma* said:
Im really worried about my baby being taken off me by social services. Im worried about everything and now I got to go behind my partners back and leave him. I’m scared but know its the right thing as my baby comes first. I haven’t got much money and today my POW gave me baby clothes, toiletries, blankets and food and I really appreciate it and making me excited for my baby to arrive.
Our baby bank is in demand all year round – but, at Christmas, we try and give some of our clients a bit extra with a Christmas hamper. The hampers contain not just food and baby essentials, but some gifts for mum and any other children in the family.
The bank holidays and delayed post mean that it can be more difficult to get help over the Christmas and New Year period; many of our clients find themselves in need over the holidays. So, even if a family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, the hampers are welcome.
In the video below, Catherine is putting together a hamper for her client Maya*. Whilst recovering from a C Section, Maya’s benefits were stopped due to a mix-up at the Jobcentre. “She signed something she didn’t understand, because her English is very limited and there was no interpreter,” Catherine says, “and it stopped her benefits. When she realised what had happened, she made lots of attempts to appeal and, finally, I wrote a long letter in her support.
“But, even once it had been agreed that her benefits should be reinstated, it took another two weeks for her to receive them. It was a real mess, because of course she’d got a new baby and she was still recovering from the birth, and suddenly found herself with no money. We had to give her and her family some food, from our own donations and from Narthex, during those weeks. She’s had a really tough time, so this is just a little gesture from us.”
Thank you to everyone who donated – and continues to donate – to the Gateway food and baby banks. We wouldn’t be able to give out our Christmas hampers without the donations we receive from Healthy Minds, Birmingham Registry, Vineyard Network Church and The Samaritans Purse, who’ve provided us with lots of hand knitted baby clothes and blankets.
*names have been changed