While there remains a huge demand for foodbanks in the city Lynsey Jayes and six associates found there was not enough help available for cash-strapped parents who need support with nappies, wipes and baby food.
She said: “We got together and we thought ‘we could do this in Leeds’. I think it will be really good and something the city will benefit from.
“We looked at what foodbanks provided and found they tend to have shortage of some essential items that parents might need. People can’t manage without essentials like nappies.”
Miss Jayes founded Leeds Baby Bank with Chantal Nogbou, Marilyn Earp, Gemma Miller, Emanuela Sacco Rakipllari and Leanne Watson after reading about a similar project in Lanarkshire.
The group set up a Facebook page, which they said received has received a huge response from members of the public wanting to donate, and is looking for charity shops to team up with to distribute items as they come in.
Co-founder Chantal Nogbou, 38, of Halton Moor, said: “Some of the people we work with could be fleeing from violence and will have nothing. It could be people have had their benefits cut or it could be they are refugees with nothing but the clothes on their back. A lady we helped had a bill come in that was more than she expected and it left her short of money until her next payday.
“By just giving a few jars of food and nappies it helped to tide her over until her next payday. We would not be able to do this without the people who support us.”
Miss Jayes, 32, from Bramley, said the cause was close to her heart and understood the difficulties some parents have to deal with.
She said: “I’ve been there, I’m a single parent with five children and there have been times I’ve had to make sure I could afford the essentials and I’ve wished I had this kind of support at the time. At the time I wouldn’t have gone to a foodbank, maybe it’s a pride thing, maybe people don’t want to have to be referred through a social worker or maybe they can’t afford the time it would take.
“If people find themselves in a position where they are short of baby essentials they need them immediately.”
Leeds Baby Bank’s referrals are mostly from its Facebook page but Miss Jayes hoped to speak to other charities, health services and domestic violence organisations to get in contact with people in need.
The group also donates more expensive second-hand items, such as cots or high chairs, to parents who might not be able to afford to buy them brand new.
HIGH DEMAND IS EXPECTED
The newly established Leeds Baby Bank is expected to help hundred of parents every month.
Co-founder Chantal Nogbou said: “We’re expecting a few hundred people a month as it stands but as we become more involved with women’s groups and children’s centres we expect that figure will just grow and grow. Since we set up the Facebook page I have been very surprised with how much support we’ve had, with people saying ‘I have this or this, where can I drop it off?’.
Search Leeds Baby Bank on Facebook for more information or to donate.