Mum, voiceover artist and BBC Radio Bristol presenter, Faye Dicker, meets the Bristol businesses that make family life easier…

As a mum of two young children, I know the rate of knots that we get through baby and toddler items. In fact, the smaller the child – the more ‘equipment’ you seem to need. Car seats, baby baths, cots, high chairs – they all come with a price tag.

And don’t even get me started on clothes… every 3 months, it feels like a case of out with ‘not so old’ and in with the ‘newer’. But hey, these are growing children and their needs must. While there are some things you can make do without, there are other things that are a necessity. I couldn’t even hazard a guess at how much we’ve splashed out in the last three years and I wouldn’t even say we’ve been decadent. It would seem I’m not alone in my thinking, in fact Eva Fernandes and Becky Gilbert have taken it one step further and together have co-founded Bristol’s first Baby Bank.

The Baby Bank is pretty much as the name suggests, pre loved baby essentials for families in need. Or, in other words, a bank of baby items to see you through your baby’s first 12 months. As the founder of the popular baby shop Born on the Gloucester Road, and mum of two teenagers, Eva is no stranger to the baby world. She wondered how she could help families in the light of austerity measures and hit on the idea of a Baby Bank.

A place where preloved, but perfectly good items could be donated to families starting out. Realising she could be onto something, Eva got in touch with the Reused Network, who in turn tweeted out she was looking for storage space to get the scheme started. In the world of social media meets real life, Becky Gilbert saw the tweet – then by chance bumped into Eva. As a mum of a baby and a toddler, Becky was keen to pass on her preloved items to families that needed them. They were a pair well met. That was in May and it’s incredible to see, between the two co-founders, how far the Baby Bank has come.

Already it has nearly outgrown its first storage space, donated by The Big Yellow Storage Space. It’s a clear reflection of how many parents are keen to help and are donating their old items. The question is – how do people qualify to receive items from the Baby Bank? That side of things relies on referrals from health visitors, children’s centres and other local professionals, who identify the families in need of support. In return, the Baby Bank provides them with a bank of items to get them started. It’s a simple idea, but the implementation of things is the most time consuming part!

Just sorting through the donations is time consuming, but already the Baby Bank has attracted a team of 30 volunteers, all working in different capacities to keep the wheels in motion. The storage unit needs manning and keeping the word out relies on a social media team. You can tell by looking at the Facebook page alone, just how popular the scheme is proving. There are Cake and Donate days being held and grant applications being made. It’s early days – in fact you could say baby steps – but already they’re looking at gaining charitable status and opening other Baby Banks across the country. Speaking as a parent, there is something about knowing you can pass on your little ones belongings and help another new family, which feels right. Those first few months are hard enough getting started – so thank you to Baby Bank Bristol, for making the parenting world a slightly easier place.

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