There’s help on the way for new mums and families as Baby Basics – a volunteer-led project aiming to support to those who are struggling to meet the financial and practical burden of looking after a new baby – prepares to launch in Swansea.
The non-profit organisation began in Sheffield in 2009, and there is now a growing network of centres across the country staffed by volunteers.
Baby Basics provides much-needed essentials and equipment to mothers and families who are unable to provide these items for themselves, including but not limited to teenage mums, people seeking asylum and women fleeing domestic abuse and trafficking.
The St Stephen’s-based Swansea centre – which will also serve Port Talbot – is led by Rev Rachel Bunting, bishop’s officer for family ministry in Afon Tawe.
“There’s a baby Basics in the Vale of Glamorgan, where I did my curacy, which is when I heard first about it,” Rachel said.
“When I moved here through working with schools, especially in the Eastside area where deprivation is higher than in some areas, health visitors and Flying Start, I thought it would be a good idea to open on here.
“I contacted Baby Basics to see about setting one up and, through their co-ordinator, I visited the site they have in Barry. They are in a different position from us in that they have the whole floor of a building for storage space but, thanks to a grant from the Cinnamon Trust and working with local groups, we’ve been able to sort out premises and get up and running.
“We’re doing it as a church because we believe we’re showing the love of God to these families through providing for practical needs. That in some of the most desperate situations we’re trying to show that God is there for people and loves them through his church.”
Baby Basics works with midwives, health visitors and other professional groups to provide support directly where it is most needed. Volunteers collect, sort and package a ‘Moses basket’ of clothing, toiletries and essential baby equipment as a gift to new mothers.
“Referrals come through health visitors to make it easier for mums and families,” Rachel said. “They are used to dealing with their health visitor and the basket, clothes and toiletries are packaged so they are a gift and not a handout.”
Plans have been in the pipeline for some time, but the initiative went public a couple of weeks ago.
“We’ve had a donations of Moses baskets and clothes already, and there’s been a lot of interest including from Port Talbot. They’re under the same health board as Swansea so it makes sense to work across both areas,” Rachel said.
There are city collection points at St Thomas’ church hall, St Thomas’ library and St Mary’s Church and donations from baby grows, clothing, towels, toiletries and Moses baskets would be welcome. The charity cannot take car seats, electrical equipment, used bottles, large toys or stair gates.
There are plans to open other collection points around the city, and in Port Talbot.
And while the focus is on donations, there could also be opportunities for volunteers as the centre grows.
“Volunteers would be helpful as we go along, especially help with washing and ironing clothes, and packing baskets at our centre in Port Tennant,” Rachel said.
The centre will launch at the end of September, and you can find out more at @SwanseaBabyBasics on Facebook, or email firstname.lastname@example.org