Why Pura is donating nappies to Baby Basics UK

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Pura has joined forces with Green Bottoms and childcare brand Childbase to support Baby Basics, a Sheffield-based children’s charity for struggling families across the UK.

The partnership commenced in April 2024, with each party pledging to donate 1% of the total number of nappies ordered from Pura.

An initial donation of 7206 nappies (300 cases) was made to Baby Basics on Thursday 27 June, and the partnership anticipates donating a generous total of 40,000 nappies in the coming year.

We caught up with Cat Ross, Baby Basics, CEO, to find out more about this worthy charity.

Can you tell us about the mission and vision of Baby Basics? How did the charity get started?

Baby Basics began back in 2009 when a midwife working with vulnerable families in Sheffield approached the church she attended (Kings Centre, Sheffield) to see if there was a way the congregation could help her provide for the needs of these families.

This was Hannah, our founder. Through her work, she’d heard stories of babies not being able to go home after birth because of issues such a lack of a moses basket as a safe space for baby to sleep, and women on the maternity ward not being able to provide the essentials they needed for themselves such as maternity pads. This inspired her to create Baby Basics.

In 2015 Baby Basics became an independent charity and from there we began to grow the network of centres across the UK.

What inspired you personally to become involved with Baby Basics, and what has your journey been like since joining the organisation?

I have always worked in the charity sector and I have always been aware of Baby Basics having lived in Sheffield for a number of years. After a turbulent 12 months where I found myself being made redundant three times, I saw on social media that Hannah, the founder, was leaving and just thought – “this is where I am meant to be”.

I took over from Hannah in January 2019 and have never looked back. We have seen Baby Basics grow and develop at a rate that none of us expected, partially due to the Covid 19 pandemic and I am so proud that I get to lead such an amazing organisation that is supporting so many families across the UK in such a practical way.

Can you describe a typical day in your role as CEO of Baby Basics?

I wish there was a typical day in the life of CEO at Baby Basics, but to be fair that is what I love about it.

Whether it is speaking to our staff, supporting a centre, developing a relationship with a corporate, preparing papers for our trustees, writing a funding bid, or planning for our National Conference, I love all aspects of our work and indeed my role.

We have a unique opportunity to not only help families have what they need but highlight to the public, government and others the importance of the early years and the importance of healthy, well-equipped families.

Could you explain the range of services and support that Baby Basics offers to families?

Through professional referrals from statutory and voluntary sector, Baby Basics supports families with the essential practical items they need for life for children from pre-birth to 5 years. This includes:

- Moses baskets, cots, cotbeds, toddler beds – a safe space to sleep

- Clothing

- Toiletries and nappies

- Toys

- Feeding equipment,

- Prams, pushchairs, slings.

In 2023, one in 120 babies born in the UK received a moses basket from a Baby Basics Centre and we supported over 40,000 children and their families.

How do you identify and reach the families in need? What criteria do you use to ensure the help goes to those who need it most?

We do not do any sort of means testing, if a professional refers a family to us then we support them. We work through professionals so that:

- We remain a totally confidential service, we rarely ever meet the families we support

- There is no barrier to access, such as language, access to phone or internet

- The family does not have to add us to the list of organisations they are needing to communicate with for support

- The family does not have to share again their story with us, which can trigger feelings of guilt and shame.

Every referral that leaves our centres does so with a huge amount of thought and love put into it. No clothing is dispatched without being ironed and everything is package like a gift, is of high quality and fully safety checked where needed.

We want to ensure that the items we give to support a family, shows them love, highlights their value and helps to restore the dignity that can be lost for so many families in need of this kind of support.

We pride ourselves that each of our communities centres is run by local people who are always best placed to know what each different community in the UK requires.

Can you share some success stories or impactful moments that have stood out to you during your time with Baby Basics?

There have been so many impactful moments in the five years I have been with Baby Basics UK. Three that stand out are

A family with triplets that we supported over a 12-month period. When talking to the mum (in relation to a wonderful visit with HRH The Princess of Wales) the mum was asked why Baby Basics was important. She replied: ‘They help mums - and when you help a mum you help the entire family’

A referrer telling us how a mum cried when she received a moses basket starter pack filled with items for her baby. She didn’t cry over the clothes and bedding for the baby but over the bottle of shampoo for her as she had been washing her hair with washing up liquid.

Receiving wonderful photos and videos from families who had come to the UK through the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. Seeing the pure joy on children’s faces who came with nothing, playing with toys we had provided, snuggled up in cots we had provided and exploring their new communities in the prams and pushchairs we had provided.

What are the biggest challenges Baby Basics faces in its operations and how do you address them?

The biggest challenges facing the Baby Basics Centres is demand versus capacity. As we continue to face the cost of living crisis, demand for our services continues to increase but we have also seen a drop in donations from the general public, and more people needing to work, which means a drop in volunteers.

We do all we can to continue to meet the demands that we face but have to - at times - hold waiting lists for items in short supply and make difficult decisions on what is truly essential to provide and what are nice-to-haves. In some centres, we’ve even been forced to have discussions about capping referrals.

What role do volunteers play in your organisation, and how can people get involved?

Volunteers are at the heart of Baby Basics, in all of our centres across the UK. 90% of our centres are solely volunteer led with only a handful of our bigger centres now in the position to employ staff. Even where we have staff we could not do what we do without teams of volunteers attached to each centre.

Volunteers support each centre with a variety of tasks, sorting donations, making up referral packages of support, washing clothes, ironing, fundraising, knitting, sewing and more.

Our volunteers are from a broad spectrum of backgrounds from students participating in Duke of Edinburgh award schemes, corporate volunteers, to retired health & social care colleagues who want to give back after receiving support from us in their professional career.

Without volunteers we could not do what we do and we are so proud that so many give their precious time to us to support the families we help.

What are your goals for the future of Baby Basics? Are there any upcoming projects or initiatives you’re excited about?

We would love to see the need for us no longer existing, Families being in the position to provide for themselves and the state truly meeting the needs of those who are unable to provide for themselves for whatever reason.

Sadly, with all our country is facing right now, this change is not going to be a reality anytime soon.

We want to continue to support our existing Baby Basics Centres to meet the need in their local communities, to establish new centres in localities of need, to develop relationships with corporates who can support our work.

How can the community and potential donors best support Baby Basics and its mission?

There are so many ways that people can get involved: - Firstly check out where you nearest Baby Basics Centre is located www.baby-basics.org.uk/other-locations

- Follow them on social media, see if you have items they are in need of, volunteer your time, fundraise for them, or donate via their Amazon wish list.

- If you don’t have a centre local to you, you can donate to our Baby Basics UK Amazon wish list 

- All donations to the Baby Basics UK wishlist will be delivered to our warehouse and distributed across our centres throughout the UK.

- You can also donate financially either as a one off or regularly. Make contact with your local centre to find the way to donate or donate to Baby Basics UK https://account.stewardship.org.uk/gift/start/20386501

What keeps you motivated and passionate about your work with Baby Basics?

What keeps me passionate and motivated about our work at Baby Basics is knowing that we make a REAL difference to families lives. We make a difference to parents’ mental health, we make a difference to the development of under-fives, we make a difference to families being able to access their community, we make a difference to the work of the professionals who refer to us. We offer simple ways for people to help others in their community. We reuse and recycle making a difference to our climate and world. We help to bring dignity, value and love to all who receive from us.

In what ways do you think Baby Basics has influenced or improved the local community?

Every Baby Basics Centre is run for, by and with the local community. It is a simple way for local communities to come together to help each other. It allows an easy way for people to contribute to societal solution to a huge problem. So many people want to help others but often don’t know how. We provide the how.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about Baby Basics that you feel is important for people to know?

Just to remind everyone that anyone, at any time, can find themselves in circumstances that mean they need to access our support. There is no shame in that. No need to feel guilty. Remember, we all want the best for our children and everyone needs help sometimes. It is always okay not to be okay, because we - and others - are here to help.

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