Coronavirus lockdown sees demand soar for Hartlepool Baby Bank

Demand for a Hartlepool voluntary service that provides parents and pregnant women in need with essential items has soared during the coronavirus lockdown.
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Hartlepool Baby Bank is a source of free clothes, toys and equipment for parents of under-twos and parents to be.

Volunteers have gone mobile delivering essentials to clients’ doors as the restrictions on movement mean give or receive donations from three community centres across the town.

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Demand for the baby bank doubled in the first couple of weeks of the lockdown as parents with small children and pregnant women, classed as vulnerable, were unable to get out to shop.

Emilie De Bruijn from Hartlepool Baby Bank loading items into her car ready for delivery. Picture by FRANK REIDEmilie De Bruijn from Hartlepool Baby Bank loading items into her car ready for delivery. Picture by FRANK REID
Emilie De Bruijn from Hartlepool Baby Bank loading items into her car ready for delivery. Picture by FRANK REID

Baby Bank volunteer Emilie de Bruijn, a mum of two, said: “The need for practical things, especially in the first couple of weeks of lockdown, went through the roof when people had to isolate and weren’t ready.

“A lot of families weren’t ready, We saw a 100% demand increase. We have also seen a big demand from pregnant women for maternity packs which have everything they need for having their baby in hospital, as the situation has taken away their ability to get things.

“We are totally mobile at the moment running the service from our own homes.”

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Supporters have helped the service to continue by raising £3,500, most of it on a GoFundMe page.

Emilie, mum to Nathan, nine, and five-year-old Ava, added: “We are run purely on donations and the odd charity grant. We are absolutely amazed at how much has been raised.”

But she urged people to continue to dig deep and donate explaining the shutdown means the baby bank’s running costs have tripled.

It is because they are not able to receive donations and are having to buy all the nappies, wipes and baby food themselves.

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Since launching 14 months ago at Burbank Community Centre, Hartlepool Baby Bank has helped around 400 local families.

It also operates from Changing Futures North East on the Headland and the Commnity Hub South on Wynyard Road.

Any families wanting to get in touch with the baby bank, including for advice can message their Facebook page or call 07717 337719.

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