Gas price crisis: Leeds Baby Bank prepared for 'busiest winter ever'

The gas price crisis is set to increase financial pressure on struggling families as Leeds Baby Bank prepares for its busiest winter ever.

By Mark Lavery
Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 4:45 am
Will Munton of Leeds Baby Bank
Will Munton of Leeds Baby Bank

More families on low incomes in Leeds face having to choose between food and heating this winter amid cuts to benefits and rising energy bills.

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Leeds Baby Bank was launched in January 2017 to provide vulnerable families with emergency bundles from prams to nappies and formula to cots.

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The charity gets 75 per cent of referrals from the NHS, midwives, health support workers, social services and children’s centres, with the rest coming from schools or GPs

Charity manager Will Munton said there were around 100 referrals per month in 2020.

That figure has doubled to around 200 referrals per month in 2021 as more families struggle to feed and clothe their children.

Will said: "I think a combination of recent universal credit cuts and the gas price rise will put more pressure on families and will impact on our referral numbers.

"Usually we have a quiet summer, but it has been busier than ever recently.

"Winter usually sees a spike in referrals anyway, so we are prepared for our busiest winter ever.

"Winter is always a challenging time. People need warmer clothes and they have higher bills."

Will said each month the charity helps around 120 families per month and gives out up to 50 cots, up to 70 prams and around 500 packs of nappies.

The charity relies on donations from the public, fundraising via grants and support from businesses.

It has three members of staff and 30 volunteers.

Will said: "We are looking ahead and getting ready for increased demand and are confident we can meet it, with support from the public."

The charity has started staging regular community events where it advises families in need where they can get a range of support in Leeds from other charities and organisations - including food banks - in Leeds.

Leeds Baby Bank helped 200 people at a recent community event at The Compton Children's Centre in Harehills.

The gas crisis has seen the price of wholesale gas surge by 250 per cent since the beginning of the year.

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