Duchess of Cambridge volunteers at Baby Basics West Norfolk in Dersingham
4 August 2020
On Tuesday 4 of August HRH The Duchess of Cambridge launched a new initiative with Baby Basics, Little Village and Abernecessities, following on from a private volunteering visit to her local branch of the national Baby Basics charity at St Nicholas’ Church in Dersingham.
As a result, The Duchess has brought together 19 British brands to donate items to support Baby Banks across the UK.
In May, The Duchess of Cambridge expressed a desire to see what happened “at the sharp end” of this organisation that supports expectant or new mothers.
Maggie Anderson Co-Lead of Baby Basics West Norfolk explains: “The Duchess requested to volunteer with myself and a Health Professional to build a Moses Basket, ready to be delivered to a mum in need. During the visit, she asked lots of questions and thoroughly enjoyed herself. Whilst it was exciting, because of social distancing requirements, it took a lot of organising and numerous telephone calls to ensure this private visit could take place.”
Following on from this in June, at the Duchess’ request, HRH met with two mothers and their babies who had previously received a filled Baby Basics Moses Basket. Over an informal afternoon tea, the Duchess heard their stories and how Baby Basics had helped them when they needed it most.
The Duchess of Cambridge said: “Over recent months, I have heard from families who have been supported by baby banks through the most difficult of times and I have been deeply moved by their stories. Having somewhere to turn to for support is important for all families, and baby banks work every day, up and down the country, to provide immediate, tangible and practical help for parents and carers when they are most in need.
“Baby banks are driven by incredible volunteers, demonstrating the power of community spirit in supporting families and coming together to raise the next generation. Thanks to the generosity of the companies taking part in this initiative, baby banks across the UK will be able to support even more families through this particularly challenging time.”
Following several private visits to Baby Basics West Norfolk, The Duchess spearheaded a drive for donations of items for babies and toddlers from brands and high street retailers.
The Revd Mark Capron Rector of St Nicholas Church Dersingham said: “It is wonderful that HRH has chosen to support this local Christian Charity. The Duchess is aware that sadly there are many babies who arrive into the world where there is so little. The Baby Basics Moses basket offers an expression of God’s love and hope to new and precious lives as they begin their journey in this world; a journey’s beginning that to some degree echoes Jesus who was born in a humble place, being laid in a manger. The Duchess of Cambridge’s involvement is will raise the profile of the wonderful work done by Baby Basics, and in doing so will support all those who need it most.”
On hearing of the Duchess’ care and involvement with Baby Basics, The Bishop of Norwich – The Rt Revd Graham Usher said: “I am delighted that HRH The Duchess of Cambridge has supported the outreach work of St Nicholas’ Church in Dersingham by filling a Moses basket. The arrival of a new baby should be a time of joy and delight, but for some women, it can be a time of huge vulnerability. I pray that the gift of a basket of items will support them and encourage them so that they can delight in the remarkable gift of a new life.”
Baby banks aim to support and empower families by ensuring every child has the essential items they need to thrive. In the UK, they are powered primarily by volunteers and typically run on professional referral from services such as health visitors, midwives and social workers.
Maggie Anderson explains how the branch in Dersingham works:
“Baby Basics West Norfolk has been blessed by so many wonderful people donating new items of baby clothing and bedding, maternity sanitary wear, nappies, toiletries, knitting, and so much more. Working with Health Professionals, referrals are made to the team for new mums and babies in need, essentials for baby and mother are lovingly prepared in a Moses basket.
“During this current pandemic kindness and generosity to the charity has enabled Baby Basics to continue providing to those mums and vulnerable families in need unable to meet the financial burden of providing for a new baby.”
About Baby Basics UK
Baby Basics UK has been working since 2009 providing essential baby/toddler equipment to vulnerable women, including but not limited to, families in economic poverty, teenage mums, women seeking asylum, women fleeing domestic abuse and trafficking. We provide clothing, toiletries and other essentials needed for life with a children up to 5 yrs. Baby Basics works closely with midwives, health visitors and other agencies to provide a safe, reliable service that people can trust. Across our network of centres, we supported over 4,000 families in 2019 and expect to have supported over 7,000 families in 2020.
Baby Basics doesn’t just donate useful items to people in need, it restores dignity to women who have lost their sense of it through domestic abuse, poverty or displacement. It involves people of all ages in the community, from children who decorate the gift boxes, to older people who knit blankets and baby clothes with as much love and care as if they were for their own grandchildren.
A Survey in 2018 estimated that 1 in 100 families in England with children under 5 have visited a baby bank 1 Baby Basics UK have found a substantial increase in the use of their services during the coronavirus pandemic, seeing an increase in referrals of 110 %. New statistics from Little Village show nine out of 10 baby banks say that the coronavirus crisis is making it harder to support families in the way they would want and that 77% of baby banks desperately need more nappies, mattresses and other products. 2
1 Source: UK Baby Banks Report – Channel 4 Dispatches, Born on the Breadline 29.10.18
2 Source: Source: Little Village survey of 50+ UK baby banks, 2020 http://littlevillagehq.org/little-village-baby-banks-survey