Hundreds of families supported by baby bank during Covid pandemic

Beautine Wester sorts through donations in the back of the Clapton Seventh Day Adventist Church, Hackney

Beautine Wester sorts through donations in the back of the Clapton Seventh Day Adventist Church, Hackney, October 21, 2020. - Credit: Grey Hutton/National Geographic Society Covid-19 Emergency Fund

The founder of a Hackney organisation, supporting mothers and children in need, praised the efforts of her "family of volunteers" as the country marked the coronavirus lockdown anniversary this week.

Nurse Beautine Wester set up the E5 Baby Bank in June last year, after contacting her local King’s Park mutual aid group to help her and her church, Clapton Adventist Church on Chelmer Road, source volunteers.

However, when Beautine noticed that families coming to her church for food needed extra support she enlisted the help of the local group, her church and 400 mums from the E5 Baby/Children’s Buy and Swap Facebook group. 

They began collecting and supplying mothers with clean clothes, toys, milk nappies and other essential items.

She said: “If it wasn’t for mutual aid, which just celebrated its anniversary [on March 15], we wouldn’t be here – unbelievable isn’t it?”

Beautine Wester in the Clapton 7th Day Adventist Church which houses the E5 Baby Bank, 21st October,

Beautine Wester in Clapton Seventh Day Adventist Church, which houses the E5 Baby Bank, October 21, 2020. Mothers are referred to the Baby Bank from children and migrant centres, food banks, Hospital maternity wards and domestic abuse organisations. - Credit: Grey Hutton/National Geographic Society Covid-19 Emergency Fund

Almost a year on, the organisation has grown to become a registered charity helping provide all sorts, from shelter, cots, activity packs and mattresses, to about 60 to 80 families a week.


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The baby bank now serves mothers across London, not just E5, and even helps the Home Office deliver emergency supplies to survivors of abuse and trafficking - exacerbated by the pandemic.

Beautine says “a lot has changed” in a year, adding that the banks progress has been “completely driven by the community”.

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“We are not buying any of these things everything is donated,” she said.

"The other brilliant beautiful thing about the bank is the family of volunteers from all walks of life and ages.

“That’s how we have grown – volunteers.”

Volunteer Thierry carry’s boxes with clothes and essentials to the car.

Volunteer Thierry carries boxes with clothes and essentials to the car, November 8, 2020. His children have piano and violin lessons in the church and he’s a member of the congregation, so he drops boxes off to families three or four times a week. - Credit: Grey Hutton/National Geographic Society Covid-19 Emergency Fund

Volunteers like Alice Bruggen, who commuted to the West End until the pandemic struck, have donated their time and efforts. 

“I have replaced my previous commuting time with cycling around east London delivering food packages, hot meals and baby and child essentials,” she said. 

Volunteering, Alice says, has allowed her to meet “so many caring and inspiring people” and helped her “feel useful during difficult times”.

She has enjoyed it so much she has even trained with St John Ambulance to support the vaccination programme. 

She added:  “It's something I look forward to at the end of my working day and I'm sure I'll continue volunteering long after I get my old commute back.

E5 Baby Bank is currently looking for a storage space to keep items for delivery. 

To learn more and donate visit www.e5babybank.org

Volunteers from Clapton CFC, a local women’s football club, go through clothes donated to the E5 Bab

Volunteers from Clapton CFC, a local women’s football club, go through clothes donated to the E5 Baby Bank in Hackney, sorting them into zip-locked bags labelled by age groups, November 8, 2020. - Credit: Grey Hutton/National Geographic Society Covid-19 Emergency Fund

Inside the the Clapton 7th Day Adventist Church items for the E5 Baby Bank and parts for the churche

Inside Clapton Seventh Day Adventist Church items for the E5 Baby Bank and parts for the churches refurbishment lie side by side, November 8, 2020. The closure of places of worship during the pandemic has meant that renovations can take place to the church, and the extra unused space can be filled by the E5 Baby Bank. - Credit: Grey Hutton/National Geographic Society Covid-19 Emergency Fund

Two pregnant women, originally from Albania, receive help from Beautine Wester at the E5 Bank Bank i

Two pregnant women, originally from Albania, receive help from Beautine Wester at the E5 Bank Bank in the Clapton Seventh Day Adventist Church, Hackney, October 21, 2020. The women were referred to the Baby Bank by Hestia, an organisation which helps families in crisis across London, specifically with domestic abuse and modern slavery. - Credit: Grey Hutton/National Geographic Society Covid-19 Emergency Fund

Volunteers from Clapton CFC, a local women’s football club, alongside some of their children, sort t

Volunteers from Clapton CFC, a local women’s football club, alongside some of their children, sort through clothes that have been donated to the Baby Bank, November 8, 2020. - Credit: Grey Hutton/National Geographic Society Covid-19 Emergency Fund

Volunteers from Clapton CFC, a local women’s football club, go through clothes donated to the E5 Bab

Volunteers from Clapton CFC, a local women’s football club, go through clothes donated to the E5 Baby Bank in Hackney, sorting them into zip-locked bags labelled by age groups, November 8, 2020. - Credit: Grey Hutton/National Geographic Society Covid-19 Emergency Fund

Boxes of donated clothes that have been sorted into categories are piled up, November 8, 2020

Boxes of donated clothes that have been sorted into categories are piled up, November 8, 2020. The Baby Bank receives so many clothes that it’s totally reliant upon volunteers coming to help sort through them. - Credit: Grey Hutton/National Geographic Society Covid-19 Emergency Fund


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