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Passing on love

449. Eva Fernandes
450. Becky Gilbert

Two mums founded Baby Bank Network Bristol, which redistributes good quality baby items to parents struggling with the cost of having children.

Together Eva Fernandes, 45, and Becky Gilbert, 34, founded a network which redistributes baby items such as clothes, prams, toys, slings, cots, high chairs, and cloth nappies that have been previously used and loved by parents, but are no longer needed, to parents who cannot afford to buy these items new or second hand. Their system reduces unnecessary waste and helps out those in need.

The pair started the Baby Bank Network when they realised just how quickly their children got through items such as clothes and how wasteful it was throwing them away afterwards. When investigating whether they could pass on to someone else they discovered there wasn’t any service in their area dedicated to redistributing still usable baby items.

Heading up a team of almost 35 volunteers, Eva and Becky have helped inspire hundreds of people to donate items and recently celebrated helping their 100th family through referrals. They create packages specifically for the stage a baby is at to ensure all basic needs are met and cater for babies up to the age of one.

Baby Bank Bristol works with children’s centres based in areas of deprivation and organisations that are in contact with vulnerable families like refugees to make sure that they are provided with essential items. They also liaise closely with NHS health visitors and midwives who can give referrals. Reusing items saves money and is environmentally friendly. In their first year a baby is likely to require two or three whole new sets of clothes. For some this is a financial burden they can’t manage. For others they have an abundance of baby clothes and items that may get passed on to friends and family to be reused, given to charity shops or thrown away. By donating to the Baby Bank they ensure that those with the most need get to experience the joy of parenthood with a little less stress.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“With The Baby Bank Network, Eva and Becky have come up with a fantastic way to take baby clothes that are no longer needed and often barely worn, and help to make sure they reach mums who need extra support. It is a brilliant initiative to help families across Bristol and I am delighted to recognise them both as Points of Light.”

Becky and Eva said:

“What started as an idea quickly escalated into a significant proactive organisation helping families across Bristol and none of that would’ve been possible without our team of volunteers. Working across promotion, fundraising, collecting, sorting and preparing items and managing relationships with referral partners – there is no way we could’ve got this far had it been just us. While we’re touched to have been named as Points of Light, we feel we must share that honour with the whole team.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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