Inside Louth's baby bank
The Louth Baby Bank, which is located in Louth Methodist Church and is open on Wednesdays and Fridays, has been a lifeline for families in need for over two and a half years.
Prams, baby baskets, clothes and nappies are all free to parents, who can simply choose whatever they need.
Councillor Jill Makinson-Sanders, who set up the initiative, couldn’t be prouder.
“We’ve outgrown our room already. We could probably do twice as much,” she says.
The Baby Bank started near the church in April 2021 and has since relocated due to its growing needs and the necessity to be centrally located.
“We allow people to come in and choose what they want. Tastes vary,” Makinson-Sanders explains.
“If you want to be kitted out, we can kit out a new parent completely,” she adds.
The bank prides itself on its inclusivity, helping people in all financial situations, including refugee families fleeing conflict and parents in Womens’ Refuges.
“Everything is free. We don’t judge anybody when they come in—any creed, colour,” she said, “We help a lot of people from the refuge. We have a lot of refugees; we’ve helped Afghans, Syrians, and lots of Ukrainians as well.”
While donations are welcome, especially for larger items like prams, they are not mandatory.
The Baby Bank also serves as a community support system. “If people have got a problem, and they need a bit of support and a bit of help, we can talk to them,” Coun Makinson-Sanders notes.
The service has been particularly beneficial for young mothers like Chloe, a 16-year-old who lives with her single mother and is raising her six-month-old baby Eliza.
“The baby bank is a lot of help,” she said. Chloe gets £24 a month in support, but milk costs £15 a tub.
“It gets more expensive now because she’s drinking more and is almost on two tubs a week.
“The bank is always here to support with clothes and nappies and wipes.
“They’re really good and it’s a really good system.”
Ukrainian couple Anton and Tetiana are refugees from Ukraine who arrived in the UK in May and have been using the baby bank for nearly two months.
The couple have two young children, a boy and a girl aged two and three-and-a-half respectively, as well as a son who is almost eighteen years old.
“It’s very helpful for us to have the ability to come here and take some clothes, toys and even nappies for the children,” said Anton.
“We really appreciate it, they are very kind people.”
The initiative is run by a dedicated team of volunteers who sort and clean the donated items.
“We take things home and wash them,” says Coun Makinson-Sanders.
The Baby Bank has received money from the council’s household fund, which is used to buy essential items like milk, baby food, and nappies.
Volunteer Maureen said it was “very satisfying” to be part of the baby bank.
“It’s very good. People are so grateful and pleased at what we can do for them.
“It’s nice to see a pregnant mum come in and then when they have the baby they bring them in. It’s just very good,” she added.
As the cost of living continues to rise, the Baby Bank expects to get even busier. “We’re always busy, always busy,” Makinson-Sanders emphasises.
The service is a testament to the generosity of the Louth community.
“People are really good. It’s the best recycling scheme there is in Louth,” she concludes.