The Southport branch of the Labour Party responded to a call for funds earlier this year from Southport Baby Bank based at Southport Community Centre, Norwood Road.
In March 2021, the town’s volunteer led Baby Bank announced their aim of raising £10,000 to continue the work they had been doing for over eighteen months, before and during the pandemic.
Local activist and recent candidate for Cambridge Ward, Laura Lunn-Bates shared the appeal with members and a call for a wide range of donations to suit all pockets was made:
£5 would fund a toiletry bundle, £10 would buy nappies to last a week, £25 would clothe a child (including pyjamas), £30 would provide a Moses basket for a referred family and £50 would secure two weeks hire of the room at the centre when it reopens.
Laura said “I saw the fabulous work the baby bank had been doing during the pandemic from bundles for new mothers to helping feed school kids, stepping in where the government had failed. Baby banks should not need to exist, but whilst they do it is important to get all the support possible. I decided to approach the local Labour Party to raise money and before I knew it, we’d hit £800.00. This will make a huge difference and shows the power of solidarity.”
For some families, even a pencil and a notebook are luxury items whilst on zero hours contracts, furloughed or unable to find work in this climate of austerity.
The organisers regularly update their followers and supporters demonstrating where their donations are being used, ensuring everyone feels included and appreciated. The centre is due to re-open in June 2021, providing government guidelines indicate it is safe to do so.
The centre opened in October 2019 and provided a point for donations and referrals. This was unfortunately closed again in the March 2020 Lockdown. Undeterred, these mega mums, have continued to support families right the way through the pandemic organising food hampers to offset the free school meal denial from the Conservative government, and responded with learning packs to support those being home-schooled.
The Centre for the Baby Bank nestles on the boundary between Kew and Norwood Ward and support from Labour Councillors from both wards demonstrates how councillors can work together like this
Cllr Jennifer Corcoran, recently elected to join Cllrs Janis Blackburne and Sean Halsall in Kew Ward said “It is amazing to see the ongoing community response to this wonderful project, but utterly outrageous that we have to resort to this to try and protect young families in this town. I know very well how challenging it can be to make ends meet and how quickly circumstances can change. The work of these volunteers is incredible and I am really proud of our town, and our members’ response to this appeal.”
Cllr Waterfield, who has long been an advocate for working together for the good of our community said “I am delighted to see that we as councillors can come together to support common ground on common turf giving our support and commitment to community driven initiatives led by local people across the ward boundaries.”
Southport Baby Bank was founded by local mums Kirsty Pennington and Lianne Parr in 2019. They had founded a local mums network some three years earlier and were moved to take further action when ‘End Child Poverty’ published figures on child poverty. Their aim was to make a difference to the babies and children in Southport who are living in, or born into poverty. The estimated figure is a heart-breaking 25% of all babies and children in Southport.
They announced their proposal on Facebook in May 2019 with a launch planned for the Autumn. They rolled out fundraisers such as a quiz night, boombox bingo, and 5k around the Marine Lake.
It was a real family affair, with children of the founders getting involved in the fundraising alongside their parents. They launched a ‘JustGiving’ page for donations and invited donations of essentials to enable them to create bundles of clothes and for families in need.
To ensure they could deliver safely, and for as long as was needed, they underwent DBS checks, co-ordinated volunteers and referral points, and forecasted realistic running costs.
Local suppliers donated items and a wish-list was set up with an online retailer; this all supplemented the money being raised. Additionally, local businesses provided raffle prizes.
During lockdown restrictions their service is far harder to run and it is down to their determination and dedication that it has continued.
Southport Baby Bank are able to help families from the 32nd week of pregnancy, up until a child is 12 months old and you can be referred via your health visitors as well as some nurseries and schools.
If you are able to assist with donations please visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/babybanktoughmudder
To purchase wish list items please visit Amazon.
It may be a cliché but every little really does help, and anything you can spare to support this vital community service would be gratefully received.