As reported in last week’s paper, Jill Makinson-Sanders, who came up with the idea for the baby bank, feared that it might have to close down after being asked to leave Church House, opposite St James’ Church, to allow other community groups to return to the premises.
Rev’d Cameron Watt, who joined the Louth parish in June, praised the baby bank as being a “fabulous success story” and insisted that nobody was trying to put the facility at risk of closure, but added that there are long-term commitments to existing community groups, some of which have paid to use Church House for many years.
Rev’d Watt said: “The ongoing conversation for the last three months is where’s the best place for Bundles of Joy to be able to flourish? But also, we have a number of pre-existing commitments with that room at Church House from before the pandemic. That room was used for a variety of community uses.
“We’ve had community groups using it for the past couple of decades; the chess club, the photography club, there are a couple of choirs that meet there, and that’s where we hold our Sunday school.
“We also have a commitment to one of the local schools, and they have an ongoing rental agreement with it.”
He explained that during the lockdowns these groups were unable to use Church House for such purposes, but were hoping to return this autumn - adding that it was “wonderful” that the baby bank has been able to make use of the room at Church House in the meantime.
He added: “We have been sourcing other venues for these community groups where we can, and we’re picking up the cost of their hire or, if they are our premises, we are giving them to those other groups without charging them because of the dislocation from their base.
“All I’m looking for is the best solution for everyone. It’s not an ‘either-or’.
“It would be wonderful if we had more rooms to be able to do all this for free for everyone! We are just trying to find the way through what is a tricky situation for all of us.”
He continued: “We will continue to support everyone who regularly uses that room to find solutions in the short and the long term.
“So, if we’re having to continue to support other groups in alternative venues, if we’re having to continue to not be able to run our Sunday school because we can’t access the room... we will continue to try and find the right solution for everyone.
“We will continue to keep asking people to bring stuff into the baby bank, we will continue to keep saying what a good thing it is, and we will continue to keep praying for it and for all the other community enhancement and cohesion work that goes on in Louth.”
Rev’d Watt added that, in a sense, the Team Parish of Louth is a part of the baby bank, as the community outreach manager was a ‘key part’ of helping set up the group at their premises.
He reiterated his view that the baby bank is “a fabulous success story of people coming together, identifying a need, and doing something about it.”
Following the Leader’s interview with Rev’d Watt, Jill Makinson-Sanders reiterated that she will continue to seek alternative suitable premises for the baby bank in Louth, which opened in April following delays caused by the pandemic.
Jill added that she has offered to pay for use of the room at Church House, which the church has provided for free, including heating and lighting costs and access to toilet and kitchen facilities.
• Meanwhile, several community projects and events are being put on by the Team Parish of Louth in the coming weeks and months, including the extended Christmas Tree Festival in early December.