New 'lifeline' baby bank offering food, clothes, milk, nappies and even furniture supports High Peak parents in need
A mum who founded the new Buxton Baby Bank says setting it up has helped to combat her post-natal depression and wants to provide a much needed service for struggling parents.
The saying goes it takes a village to raise a child but Buxton Baby Bank founder Kirsty Lownds says help is needed now more than ever as people do not have the support of their ‘village’.
The mum-of-two from Fairfield Road said: "A bag of baby clothes, nappies and formula for a new struggling parent is a bag of kindness, it’s a hug, it’s a sigh of relief knowing you are not alone and you have people standing besides you.”
Kirsty said the image of poverty has changed dramatically over the past decade, and even more so with the financial crisis, the roll out of universal credit, and now the covid 19 pandemic.
"In recent months people have lost jobs, lost incomes, lost family members and the working poor are now carrying the burden of working to feed and clothe their families.
"On top of this, the people who were already on or below the poverty line are becoming more and more destitute but there shouldn’t be any shame in that - there should be help and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
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. This can be anything from a few packs of nappies, to breastfeeding advice, or a cot.
Kirsty, 32, grew up as one of seven siblings in Longnor and would often wear hand-me-down clothes. She remembers the sense of community she felt growing up but says it has felt different during the Covid pandemic.
She said: "I had my second child in September and he was huge, he came out needing three to six months clothes and all I had were newborn ones.
"Then weeks later we were in another lockdown and all the shops were shut and I couldn’t get anything and I had to rely on the kindness of strangers to help me out and that’s when I realised how much of a need there was for a baby bank in Buxton to provide a lifeline for struggling parents.”
Kirsty says the need for a project like this has never been higher with reports showing 22.3per cent of children in the High Peak were in poverty prior to the pandemic.
She explains employment rates have dropped dramatically since 2017 with another report showing that in March 2020, there were just under 3,000 lone parent households in the High Peak, and that number is continuing to grow rapidly.
"Rising housing costs are also seeing a lot more families living in rented accommodation rather than owning their own properties and due to no cap on rental costs, a lot of people are struggling to afford their rent payments and just need a helping hand,” she added.
The baby bank makes up packs for new mums featuring maternity pads, breast pads and toiletries and provides clothes from tiny baby to two years.
Kirsty said: “We have had so much great stuff donated by very kind people but what I really want to do is get the items out to people who need it now.
"If you have a friend who needs a helping hand or maybe you are struggling at the moment get in touch and we will see how we can help you.”
She says having the baby bank to focus on has helped her with her postnatal depression too.
“My daughter Willow was born in 2019 and we went to baby groups and met other mums and babies and I felt I belonged but having Rufus in what can only be described as the strangest year has been very different and very difficult. We have had nowhere to go, no family members to see and its been tough and I was starting to feel a bit lost and was getting overwhelmed with everything and had postnatal depression but things are starting to change.
"The baby bank has given me a focus and knowing I’m helping other people has inspired me to stick with it and it has actually helped my mental health as well.
"I’m sure a lot of new mums and dads have really struggled this year, not just from the emotional support being with family brings but also the financial support too. A cute outfit from the grandparents or a new pack of nappies can make all the difference to people and it has been missing from so many people’s lives recently.”
As charity shops have been shut for months on end people who would normally be donating outgrown clothes have been throwing them away, Kirsty says, so the baby bank will offer people a greener alternative.
She said: “This is one of the many ways that Buxton Baby Bank is going to help the community. Not just by supplying families of all backgrounds with the essentials required for their children to get an equal start, but also by helping to reduce the environmental impact of the pandemic and fast fashion.”
The baby bank, which was based out of Kirsty’s home for several months, is now operating out of Buxton Community Church on London Road, and is in a position to collect and store larger items like cots, which will be donated with new mattresses, and prams.
Everything is being done by appointment from dropping off donations to collecting items.