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Hundreds of Hackney mums help struggling mothers in London get essential items

PUBLISHED: 12:01 04 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:23 07 September 2020

Paediatric nurse Beautine Wester is a member of Clapton Adventist Church and helped set up the baby bank. Picture: E5 Baby Bank

Paediatric nurse Beautine Wester is a member of Clapton Adventist Church and helped set up the baby bank. Picture: E5 Baby Bank

E5 Baby Bank

A Clapton church and mums’ buy and swap Facebook group set up a baby bank after seeing many mothers struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Baby bank volunteer Hannah is one of 400 mums suppoting mothers across London. Picture: E5 Baby BankBaby bank volunteer Hannah is one of 400 mums suppoting mothers across London. Picture: E5 Baby Bank

Paediatric nurse Beautine Wester was shocked to learn so many mothers all over London were going without basic necessities.

She told the Gazette: “I was so touched when I saw children coming in with no shoes and thought: ‘This is London!’

“No shoes, no blankets, no towels, no bed linen, and then a mother to say: ‘I’ve been wrapping her with clothes, just her jumpers.’

“That is crazy.”

Clapton Adventist Church Pastor Nerine Barrett volunteers at the baby bank. Picture: E5 Baby BankClapton Adventist Church Pastor Nerine Barrett volunteers at the baby bank. Picture: E5 Baby Bank

READ MORE: Donations made to hospital help give premature babies the best start

She and about 400 mums from the E5 Baby/Children’s Buy and Swap Facebook group, in partnership with Clapton Adventist Church on Chelmer Road, began collecting and supplying mothers with clean clothes, toys, milk, nappies and other essential items in June.

“Most of the donations come from the community mums – they are amazing!” She said.

Word of the baby bank spread through local mutual aid groups.

The E5 Baby and Children's bank was set up in a June as a post-pandemic response to support mothers and help supply essential items. Picture: E5 Baby BankThe E5 Baby and Children's bank was set up in a June as a post-pandemic response to support mothers and help supply essential items. Picture: E5 Baby Bank

“We saw a five year old who was very shabbily dressed when we went to deliver food, and from there, I put it up into my local mutual aid group.

“Some mums saw and we decided to set up this project.

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“Now we have families coming from as far as Heathrow , Hammersmith – everywhere!

Paediatric nurse Beautine Wester is a member of Clapton Adventist Church and helped set up the baby bank. Picture: E5 Baby BankPaediatric nurse Beautine Wester is a member of Clapton Adventist Church and helped set up the baby bank. Picture: E5 Baby Bank

“We are working with mums who practically have nothing.”

The bank now serves over 80 families and is working with over 25 organisations across London.

These include Hackney organisations like Made Up Kitchen which has been providing cooked food packages and bags of fresh fruit and vegetables to people all over the borough during the pandemic.

READ MORE: Young people in Hackney Marshes help deliver thousands of meals during coronavirus pandemic

They also work closely with local charity Shoreditch Trusts’ Bump Buddies, accepting referrals from the group which supports pregnant women in Hackney.

READ MORE: Doctor’s early warnings about Covid-19 helped charity set up free food delivery service

The baby bank has set up a GoFundMe page in the hopes of raising £10,000 to buy a Portakabin as once the church reopens there will no longer be space to run the baby bank there.

Beautine and other volunteers also hope to raise awareness about the plight of struggling mothers, believing the issue to be far-reaching and long-term.

“In the interest of the community, we came together and worked together and shared stories.

“But, my concern is there are lots more people who need the help and they are not getting it,” she said.

Beautine, a member of Clapton Adventist, works in the community looking after children with disabilities.

She rescheduled her shifts so she could volunteer at the baby bank.

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