Chantal Nogbou, 39, is a single mum and co-founder of Leeds Baby Bank.
She lives with her four children in Halton Moor, East Leeds.
Chantal knows how it feels to be desperately in need. Nearly 20 years ago, she was given a few weeks’ notice to leave her London apartment with her then-husband. She was pregnant with her first child and they couldn’t afford anywhere else to live.
The couple were eventually offered a house in Dewsbury Moor. They lived there for two years and then moved to Leeds. This experience, she says, helps her understand how scary and isolating it can be when people come to her for help at Leeds Baby Bank. The baby bank gives donated items, such as nappies, wipes and formula, to families in need, who have been referred by their health visitors.
Now a single mum and self-employed acupuncturist, she says the seed was planted to set up Leeds Baby Bank when she saw a Facebook video of the Lanarkshire Baby Bank in November 2016. She said: “I was shocked at the types of people needing help. The baby bank wasn’t for people you’d assume might need it – it was for people on zero hour contracts, junior doctors, and people whose benefits hadn’t come through yet.”
Chantal joined forces with another mum in January 2017 after connecting on Facebook, and Leeds Baby Bank was born.
In Chantal’s words, it exploded. She said: “We were expecting to put stuff in the corners of our kitchens – but I was never off the phone. I was working four days a week in my normal job and on my day off, I was out delivering, writing charity bids and seeing families.”
Since January 2017, Leeds Baby Bank has helped over 700 families from all walks of life.
Following a break-in at its storage unit, Leeds Baby Bank is now based at St. John’s shopping centre in Leeds.
When asked what motivates her, Chantal says: “I’ve always wanted to help people. It doesn’t matter where people come from or what their situation is. Everyone at Leeds Baby Bank shares a common cause. We’re like a family.”