Demand for charity helping hard up Buxton families soars

The Buxton Baby Bank provides nappies, baby food and clothes to struggling parents and in recent months the charity has seen a huge increase in those using its services.

Friday, 12th November 2021, 8:14 am

Founder of the Buxton Baby Bank Kirsty Lownds is now calling on people to donate items ahead of the Christmas party which will see every child leave with a pair of pyjamas, a book and a woolly hat.

She said: “The baby bank isn’t even a year old and we’ve gone from helping a couple of families a month to helping almost 70 families a month.

"It’s heartbreaking to know there are so many people in our community who are struggling to feed, clothe and keep their little ones warm every month.”

Baby bank, Kirsty Lownds with Rufus and Willow, Carla and Angelo Palmer and Zoie Campbell

Baby Banks are a relatively new idea, with only around 100 currently operating in the UK. These supply essential items to families expecting or with new babies.

Not only does Kirsty’s life-line charity provide clothes, food and nappies it also provide families with access to bigger items like cots, bed guards and prams.

The 29-year-old said: “Having children is expensive. They grow so fast that you’ve just got them all set with clothes and they grow and nothing fits them anymore.

"For some families this is a genuine concern as they don’t know how they are going to keep their child warm and fed and that’s no way to live so we are here to help."

Baby bank, Kirsty Lownds sorting donations

The image of poverty has changed dramatically over the past decades and Kirsty says the working poor are now carrying the burden of working to feed and clothe their families, but unable to obtain the extra help they need because they do work.

On top of this, the people who were already on or below the poverty line are becoming more and more destitute.

Kirsty says the need for a project like this in the High Peak has never been higher as 22.3per cent of children in the borough were in poverty prior to the pandemic.

She explained employment rates have dropped dramatically since 2017, with more families becoming dependent on benefits and social housing.

She said: “There has always been a huge number of people living hand to mouth in our area. Due to no cap on rental costs, a lot of people are struggling to afford their rent

payments, and the lists for council and housing association properties is never ending.

"The pandemic has compounded the problems people were already facing and now they are really struggling.

"There have been job losses, people are on reduced hours which means reduced wages and now we are dealing with the fallout of the reduction of Universal Credit by £20 a week. “While that may not be a lot to everyone it works out at four packs of nappies a week or nappies, milk and a bit of food.”Then you factor in energy prices are rising on top of everything else it’s no wonder people are struggling.”

Since setting up the charity in January Kirsty has made it her mission not just to provide clothes but the community support system to allow people to feel connected to other families.

She has set up weigh-in clinics run by a midwife and runs classes for new parents to teach them the the basics of child care and also is involved with the baby and toddler classes which take place in Buxton Community Church where the baby bank is based out of.

She said: “We used to have the children’s centre where people could go and ask questions and feel part of a community but we have sadly lost that.

"For parents who have had a child during the last two years it can be very isolating not going to baby groups or having a friendly mum face to smile at and people have missed out.

Childrens groups, soft play areas and classes are now extremely limited, and the ones which do still exist are a lot of the time very costly.

"Not only impacting the social skills of the children and parent, but also their mental health.

"There is a definite need in the community and one I am trying to meet.”

Next month the charity is hosting a free Christmas party for families in the community where every child who attends will receive a book, a warm hat and pair of pyjamas.

The mum of two said: “We can’t provide all the help all the time but we wanted to provide some practical presents which can be used not just Christmas.

"A new hat will keep a little head warm all through winter as will a set of new pjs.”All the gifts will be free for families and so now Kirsty is planning a coffee morning to raise funds to buy the presents.She said: "The party will be for a maximum of 50 children up to the age of three so that’s lots of presents too get ready.

“I would love people to rally round and drop in a gift we can share with our families who need them the most or come along and support our coffee morning where all the funds will go towards buying presents.”

The coffee morning is taking place Saturday November, 10 between 10am and 1pm at the London Road church ahead of the party taking place on Saturday December 4.

Anyone who would like to make a donation, book a place at the party or needs any of the services offered by the baby bank should email Kirsty on [email protected]

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