Tell us about Baby2Baby? The concept is like a Food Bank. We take donations of new and used baby clothing and items and redistribute them to families in need within East Sussex. We don’t work directly with families, but take referrals from professionals including Health Visitors, Social Workers and Midwives, on their behalf.
This is the donations process, from start to finish: Asides taking donated items, we hope local families will support us in other ways, such as by attending fundraising events we plan to have throughout the year, or even holding their own event.
Why did you start Baby2Baby? Parenting is a tough job, even more so when impacted by the pressures and strains of financial hardship. Last year I had my third baby and couldn’t believe how soon after having him I was sorting through clothing he had outgrown. Tiny babygrows I had long anticipated dressing him in, and outfits he had been given as gifts; some barely worn and still looking like new. To me, these items felt hugely sentimental and I wondered who I could give them to, or how they could be used in a way that would appease that pang of sadness when placing much loved outfits in the ‘too small’ pile. After doing a bit of research, I decided to start a baby bank. I approached two friends I met last year during our pregnancies. They too were excited by the potential and benefit a service like this could bring to local families, and agreed to become trustees. At the beginning of 2018 we formalised our venture and Baby 2 Baby was ‘born’ (for want of a better word!). Since then we have been meeting regularly, along with our babies, making plans and sharing aspirations for the future of Baby 2 Baby.
Where are you based? We’re starting where we know best, Crowborough. Our first Donations Drop-Off Day will be held on May 5th at the Community Centre between 10am and 2pm. We really hope this will be a success and we will then have some stock to start sorting into bundles, and to enable us to begin responding to referrals. Our plan is then to hold further donations events, and gradually to grow the service so we are recognised countywide. At some point we hope to secure funding which can go towards a storage facility, so our ‘base’ as such may well change depending on where we find an appropriate facility.
Who will receive my donated items? As mentioned, we will be taking referrals from professionals across the county. The information we receive from them will be needs based so we can make sure we respond with the most appropriate items. Due to confidentiality and data protection, we won’t be receiving any details that could make a family identifiable, so if you donated a pram for example, we wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly where it’s been re-homed. We will be using our social media accounts to show pictures of items and bundles ready to send out, so follow us on Facebook and Instagram and keep an eye out for things you’ve donated, ready to go to their new family.
What we will know is that every item we send out will go to a family within East Sussex who is in need of some extra support. Similarly run baby banks across the country have helped numerous families, some of whom give anonymous feedback, and it’s evident that receiving things via a baby bank service can be life changing, giving parents hope and a message of support from local communities at a time they need it most.
What items can I donate? We’re collecting baby clothing for premature babies, up to age two. In the same way, items we collect are to meet the needs of this same age group. We have a full list of items that we can and cannot accept on our website, which you can access through this link…
We really, really want families to feel like they’ve received a gift from the community, so can’t stress enough the importance of items that are in great condition. If you’re unsure, a good measure is to think how you would feel if you received it; would you be happy to put your own baby, or a baby you care about in it? If you’re unsure about something you have, feel free to contact us and we can let you know if we can accept it.
What can’t I donate? We have to follow safety guidance and regulations, so there are items that we can’t reuse such as used mattresses, due to safer sleep guidelines. Things like bottle teats and dummies can’t be reused for hygiene reasons, for example. We understand these are items families will still need, which is where fundraising comes in; we will be raising money so that when we are donated a cot, we can buy a new mattress to go with it. We don’t take electrical items as they would need to be PAT tested, and again, nothing for babies older than 2 years.
What is the CE mark? A CE mark is a symbol applied to products to indicate they conform with relevant EU directives regarding health and safety or environmental protection. This can usually be found on a label or embossed in the plastic of a toy. We cannot accept toys where this isn’t present.
I can’t make the donation day this Saturday, how frequently do you have them? Following the donations day, we will be meeting and making more plans, which will include future locations and dates for drop-off days. Again, if you follow our social media pages, you can keep up to date with details of these.
We appreciate that specific days and places don’t suit everyone, and people have a sort out, or want to donate things at different times. If you have anything to donate, and you can’t make any events we are advertising, or just can’t wait until that time, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org We have already had some inquiries and arranged hand-overs of donations from people who can’t make our first donations day.
I’m not from the area, do you cover other areas? We’re only operating in East Sussex, but there are other baby banks across the country. Based in Surrey, Stripey Stork, a baby bank we have been hugely inspired by have published a map of banks across the country. We’re delighted to now be on that map which can be accessed here.
Why are we Crowdfunding? To date, we’ve been collecting and donating clothing and items for babies aged 0-2 years. Our storage space to run this project from has been limited, meaning we have been unable to take on volunteers, and have had to be careful of how much we promote our project; we simply wouldn’t be able to take in the amount of donations we would be offered, nor would we be able to respond effectively to the increased amount of referrals we would expect.
We have now found suitable premises for Baby2Baby. It is a low cost in comparison to the other facilities we have seen and will provide a secure and suitable space to run a more effective service from. As well as benefiting from the increased storage space, we will be able to roll out our volunteer programme, have regular opening session times, and ultimately increase the amount of families we are able to reach. In addition, we need to purchase equipment to keep our lovely donations organised, clean, safe and accessible for volunteers. This will include necessities like racking and plastic boxes.
We have secured the rent required for our first six months contract, but of course, want to be in a position to stay in this premises in six months time. Your support will mean we can do just that, ensuring the stability of the service and enabling us to continue to grow and reach more families who need support. Link to our crowdfunding page
And we can still do more…
It is estimated there are over 26,000 children living in Poverty in East Sussex. Sometimes we receive referrals from professionals with requests for items for older children. Whilst we haven’t been collecting these items regularly, we want to respond to each referral effectively, so have used social media to appeal for these items, always with a great response. As well as this, we have been collecting feedback on our service, which includes the question ‘would it be of benefit to you and the families you work with if Baby2Baby extended its service to provide items and clothing for older children?’ Every professional who has provided feedback has confirmed there is a definite need for families with older children. With new premises in place and a clear need for a further expanded service, we want to extend our age range to include taking regular stock of clothing and items for older children. This will incur an additional running cost for us, as we will need more storage equipment and packaging for the increase in referrals we will receive.
This is a big and exciting step for us. With all, we have achieved with just two of us running the project day-to-day, just imagine how many families we can go on to support with appropriate premises and an increased community of volunteers.