The need has grown significantly. This could be partly due to awareness but partly due to social circumstances and demand.

Baby Bank Norfolk was founded in 2016 by Vicki Woods but I have only recently heard of it through Norwich Foodbank. I am finding with this blog that one interview easily leads into another and there are so many fine people behind these charities that the stories flow quickly, I meet really kind people and it’s my absolute pleasure to be able to draw attention to a charity like this in any way I can.

Vicki also runs her own business, and now Baby Bank Norfolk is a registered charity and has grown to such an extent that it has 8 trustees and a team of volunteers. I met the chair of trustees, Rebecca Marr, to find out how she became involved and who the charity is for.

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What is Baby Bank Norfolk?

Baby Bank Norfolk collects quality pre-loved items for 0-18 months and redistributes them to people in need in Norfolk. The recipients can be in need for any reason and in Norfolk for any reason.

How does it work?

Items are donated and delivered to our store room in Mile Cross. The recipients have all been referred to us by organisations including GPs, health professionals, midwives, children’s centres and housing associations. When we get a referral in, we write it up and each one has a unique reference number. We don’t know who they are or where its going. We just have the age of the child, boy or girl, or expected date of birth.  We don’t choose or prioritise our packs and we don’t get to meet the recipient.

For example, this latest referral has mentioned two children. They’ve asked for a clothing pack for 6-12 months which would be a 6-9 month bundle and a 9-12 month bundle and a newborn essentials pack.

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What items do you receive?

We have clothing, toys, books, Moses baskets, baby baths and toiletries. We put together essential items bundles, newborn essential packs and a mums toiletries bundle. We don’t have the space for items like buggies or cots which also need to be properly and securely tested.  At the moment, we have enough clothes, but we accept other donations. Our facebook page has the latest updates of what is needed the most: Baby Bank Norfolk FB page

What’s in your essential items bundles and packs?

Newborn essentials packs include nappies, nappy cream, wipes, sponges, nappy sacks, cotton wool, bibs, bottles and teats if needed and toiletries like bath soap and shampoo.

Mums toiletries bundle includes maternity pads, breast pads, shower gel, shampoo and a little treat for mum, something pampery like hand cream.  I also like to include a toy and a book with a clothing bundle. We don’t just want them to be warm, we want engagement and interaction for the children too.

How did you get involved Rebecca? 

Vicki Woods started the charity in 2016, I joined a year later. I had seen it on facebook and thought it was such a fabulous idea. We have 8 trustees and fabulous volunteers like Kate, a school mum friend of mine who comes along to help sort and pack in the evenings.

Why did you start volunteering Kate?

I’d heard about Baby bank Norfolk from Rebecca but also seen a lot about it and I have two children. I had a Moses basket and baby bath that I could donate. I also had a bit more free time in the evenings and thought I could help out. Generally it’s a couple of hours a month, doing something that makes a difference, no matter how small.

“ I know so many mums who do a clean sweep and get rid of their stuff, so if you’re sitting on a Moses basket, you might as well donate it, and you feel great for doing it.”

Rebecca; do you think the charity has grown since 2016?

We’re 3 and half years in and yes the need has grown significantly. This could be partly due to awareness but partly due to social circumstances and demand. We’re not political, our strapline is ‘people in Norfolk: in need’  it doesn’t matter who they are or why they need it.

Baby Bank Norfolk statistics as at December 2019

  • Number of referring agents: 346
  • Total number of referrals supplied: 2016: 80 (7 months only)
  • 2017: 155
  • 2018: 187
  • 2019: 191
  • Total number of baby clothes bundles: 1003
  • Total number of items of clothes reused (based on assumption of expected packing levels) 35,100
  • Moses baskets donated with new mattresses purchased: 137
  • Toy and book bundles donated; 237
  • Baby baths donated: 126

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What are you most in need of at the moment? (March 2020)

  • Moses Baskets
  • Moses stands
  • Baby wipes
  • Baby baths
  • Sponges
  • Washing powder
  • Teats
  • Baby shampoo

For a list of what the charity DOES NOT need or CANNOT take, here: Baby Bank Norfolk Donations

Where can the items be taken?

  • Gymboree Play and Music, at Notcutts (on the inner city ring road) – any time they are open
  • Busy Bees Meridian (near Broadland Business Park) – any time they are open

You can also drop donations to us directly, although the times for this are very limited:

  • Greenfields Community Centre in the north of Norwich – normally 7.30-9.00 pm on Wednesdays (although please double check with us before coming, as the day will change sometimes).

Are there other ways of helping?

Volunteers are always really welcome, the demand is only growing. If anybody fancies doing any fundraising, we have rent, insurance and new mattresses to buy, – we can’t give out Moses baskets without a mattress. Please get in touch!

Get involved here: Baby Bank Norfolk