Helping vulnerable women’s newborns get the best start

Michelle Earwaker, Hastings Baby Basics volunteer, with two Moses' baskets ready to go out to expectant mums.
Michelle Earwaker, Hastings Baby Basics volunteer, with two Moses' baskets ready to go out to expectant mums.

For many pregnant women, having a baby is a time of great joy and celebration.

But if you are homeless, a victim of domestic abuse or human trafficking, or struggling to meet the financial needs of a new baby, it can be an anxious and deeply challenging time.

Baby Basics was set up in Sheffield in 2009 as a response to the growing need for practical help for new mothers unable to afford the basic essentials and equipment necessary to look after their newborns.

The charity arrived in Hastings in January 2017, thanks to two members of the congregation at King’s Church on The Ridge.

Natalie Williams, community engagement manager at the church, said: “There are a couple of women in the church, Davina and Rose, who had heard about it and really wanted to help pregnant women who were struggling.

“And that’s the whole point of Baby Basics, that people who know they may struggle when their newborn arrives can get some help.”

Volunteers take a Moses basket and pack it full of essential items, including new packets of newborn nappies, baby wipes, bedding, baby shampoo, first size baby clothing, and disposable breast pads and maternity pads for mum.

The baskets are then handed out to women in need, who have been referred to the service by community midwives and health visitors.

Natalie said: “It’s like Foodbank in that we have a list of items on our website that can be donated, some things new, some secondhand.”

She added: “We put some things in for mums as well – shampoo, shower gel and chocolates – but most of it is for baby when baby arrives.”

Most of the items are donated by generous members of the public, or purchased new using donated funds, but local businesses and supermarkets have also contributed, including the recent donation of a brand new sterilising kit from Bexhill Tesco.

Baby Basics also enjoys plenty of support from the Kings Church Knitting Group, whose members produce baby cardigans, booties, hats and toys for the Moses baskets at an impressive rate.

Since its launch 22 months ago, Baby Basics has given out 63 Moses baskets, with five more due to be delivered later this month.

The last three or four months have seen a spike in referrals as word spreads about the group.

Natalie said: “We found we have really been able to help some of the most vulnerable women in Hastings and Rother through this project.

“These are incredibly brave women, who want to keep their babies and when they are referred to us, are usually quite far on in their pregnancy.

“The idea is to give these babies the best start in life and the mum the support she may not have from elsewhere.

“We are just really pleased that we are able to run a project like this which enables us to help some of the most vulnerable in our community.”

King’s Church usually accepts donations at its parent and toddler group on Tuesdays, 10am-11.30am, and on Wednesdays, 10am-noon.

Otherwise, please email babybasics@kings1066.org to make alternative arrangements.