Leeds Baby Bank launches Crowdfunder appeal to raise £10,000 for a van to help deliver items to families facing bills versus babygrows dilemma

A charity which supplies baby items to families who are struggling to buy the basics is hoping to raise £10,000 to buy a van so it can help more people and faster as demand grows.

By Emma Ryan
Saturday, 19th September 2020, 6:00 am

The Leeds Baby Bank was established in 2017, initially to help multiple birth families, but it has expanded beyond the expectations of the founders and is now an essential part of how the city tackles child poverty as the the inquality gap grows.

A Crowd-funding appeal goes live on Sunday and has set a target of £10,000 so that the charity can buy a van and hire a driver.

Leeds Baby Bank is already helping around 60 families per week but the need for a van comes as demand and referrals grow but volunteers are struggling to keep up and many of the families they are helping don't have the means - physically or financially - to collect items either.

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Leeds Baby Bank, based in Leeds city centre is stocked with items that are being despatched to up to 60 households a week.

Recently appointed charity manager Will Munton said: “To see bundles of cots, prams, clothing and essential items starting to back up in the unit, means families are waiting with their young children. We strive to get our items out as quickly as possible to our families but the lack of transport really slows us down. We not only want to speed things up for current families, but to be able to meet the growing demand in future for our Baby Bank."

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Chantal Nogbou, one of the founding trustees added: "This is one of the main reasons for getting the van. We have so many referrals waiting to go out to families but so many of those support workers are working from home and they can't deliver the items. Families are in dire need and have not got access to a car or can't pay for a taxi.

"If we had a van we could go out tomorrow, we have availability and can drop the stuff off and get support out quicker to the families that need it."

Will Munton, charity manager at Leeds Baby Bank with some of the items waiting to go to families in need - but transport is a problem.

Families can currently be waiting up to a week for their items to arrive and COVID-19 has only slowed things down due to fewer volunteers being able to deliver.

There are also fears that, as winter approaches, families will be in even more need of help as they literally have to decide between buying nappies or paying for electricity.

It is estimated that over 35,000 children in Leeds are living in poverty, that’s the equivalent to one in five children.

One health worker that refers parents and families to Leeds Baby Bank said the intervention of the charity had stopped one young mum from going into rent arrears and having to get a pay day loan.

She said: "I supported a single mum of three young children during the time where universal credit was being introduced and some people, including this family, went long periods of time without being able to access the money they required.

"For this mum everything came at once. The boiler broke down, the weather was getting colder and the children had grown out of their winter coats, one had grown out of his shoes, the baby had grown out of his 0-3 month clothes and was quickly growing out of his moses basket.

"Leeds Baby Bank was able to supply the children with clothes, coats, shoes and the baby with the appropriate equipment. This allowed mum to pay her bills and rent and stopped her going into rent arrears or having to get a pay day loan."

A council report written just two years ago revealed that in Leeds, 19.2 per cent of all dependent children under the age of 20 (31,740 children) lived in relative poverty in 2015, compared to 16.6 per cent (1.9m children) in England.

With regards to children under the age of 16 in Leeds, 19.6 per cent (28,145 children) were in poverty in 2015, compared to 16.8 per cent (1.7m children) in England while school based measures, in the form of Pupil Premium figures, show that 33,467 pupils in Leeds are deprived.

In just four years, from 2011 to 2015, there had been a 32 per cent increase in the number of year six Leeds children living in the 10 per cent most deprived areas in the UK and a 91 per cent increase in the number of year six Leeds children living in the three per cent most deprived areas in the UK.

A separate report suggested that actually in 2016 the number of all dependent children under the age of 20 was 33,485 so within a year had increased by almost 2,000.

The report also adds that these figures at that time were under-representative of the real figure even before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

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