The Brighton baby bank helping families in need

With almost a third of UK children living in poverty, the need for baby banks is growing.

Pelican Parcels
Pelican Parcels

Statistics from charity The Children’s Society state that about four million children are currently living in poverty in the UK.

This has seen parents having to use food and baby banks to provide for their families.

In 2018 Channel 4’s Dispatches: Born on the Breadline looked at the growing need for baby banks and found that the number opening in the UK had risen ten fold since 2010.

Pelican Parcels

It said that there were at least 105 but it could be close to 200 now.

Shelley Bennett co-founded Pelican Parcels, based in Brighton, in November 2018.

She said: “When my third child had outgrown their Moses basket I wanted to donate it to a mother in need as it was still in beautiful condition.

“I phoned some charities and they told me that they didn’t have the means to store and process it.”

This gave Shelley the idea to create a baby bank and at the time the closest she could find to Brighton was Redhill in Surrey or Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Baby banks provide families in need with a number of items from nappies and wipes, to Moses baskets, toys, buggies , clothes and cots.

Most of the families that come to Pelican Parcels are through referrals from places such as the Family Information Centre or those that work directly with the family e.g health visitors.

“We don’t actually directly deal with the families,” explained Shelley.

“We get the list through and try our best to fulfil it however we can.

“Alongside the nappies we also do maternity packs for mums with toiletries maternity pads, breast pads the essentials plus added extras like bubble bath,.”

Shelley adds that if they get a request for an item they will also add a toy or book. “Some families will just request a high chair as they have been feeding their baby while holding them on their knee. We will also make sure to put in a book or toy as chances are if they can’t afford a high chair they won’t be able to afford toys or books. These are often seen as a luxury and they really shouldn’t be.”

Pelican Parcels caters for newborns up to ten years old, and hopes to one day be able to offer items for those up to the age of 16.

Baby banks rely on donations of money and items, many of which are pre-loved.

“The people of Brighton have been incredibly generous donating items that have been really expensive.

“While these people’s situations are tragic it has been great to see that there are good people out there in the world.”

Shelley predicts that by Christmas Pelican Parcels would have impacted more than 500 families and did 28 orders in November.

Statistics from End Child Poverty, released in early 2019, found that in Brighton Kemptown 32.8 per cent of children are living in poverty this rises to 36.7 per cent in Hastings which is the highest in Sussex. The lowest is Mid Sussex which is 16.7 per cent. Chichester is 24.3 per cent and West Worthing is 23.3 percent with East Worthing and Shoreham at 22.8 per cent.

End Child Poverty states that ‘a child is said to be living in poverty when they are living in a family with an income below 60 per cent of the UK’s average after adjusting for family size’.

Keen to ensure they have whatever a family may need has seen Pelican Parcels outgrow its current premises, and the charity is always keen to enlist more volunteers.

“The variety of what people need changes so much, we can’t predict what people will need.

“I just like to keep different things in stock so we can fulfil whatever people need.”

Pelican Parcels also relies on monetary donations. £5 can buy a set of new bottle teats, £15 a new mum pack with maternity essentials, £50 newborn formula for one month and £1000 is the office rent for a month.

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