Volunteers ‘devastated’ as Louth baby bank threatened with closure

Louth’s ‘baby bank’ is at risk of closure just five months after it opened, after it was claimed that St James’s Church has told the volunteers that they need the premises back so it can be put to ‘community use’.

Jill Makinson-Sanders

The ‘Bundles of Joy’ baby bank was the brainchild of local councillor, Jill Makinson-Sanders, and she shared the idea with the then-Rector of Louth, Nick Brown, at the start of the pandemic last March.

Jill told the Louth Leader that Reverend Brown offered the use of Church House, in the shadow of the spire, for two years.

Pleas were put out to the public for donations which soon came rolling in– ranging from baby clothing suitable from birth to two years, to vital equipment such as Moses baskets, cots, and pushchairs.

Jill Makinson-Sanders with some of the items at Louth's baby bank.

A donation of £500 from Louth United Charities has also kept a “nappy bank” fully stocked too.

To ensure the safety of both members of the public and the volunteers from the threat of the coronavirus, it was not possible to open the baby bank until this April.

It has gone from strength to strength, providing a lifeline to struggling families with young children, and it became so busy that additional days of opening were being considered until the recent development.

“We cannot believe how this charitable cause has taken off,” Jill said. “There are so many families in the area who are in desperate need and we are there to help.

Many of the donations of baby clothes and equipment.

“We not only distribute what we have collected giving us gold star recycling credentials, we also signpost families through our own contacts to where they can get the extra help they need to get through this difficult time.

“All the baby bank volunteers are devastated this could be the end of what is a very worthwhile project.”

Jill added that she is concerned that this winter will be particularly difficult for struggling families, particularly with the reduction in Universal Credit starting next month, in addition to increases in taxation and heating bills.

However, she insisted that the baby bank volunteers “will not let people down”, and they will do everything in their power to continue to help those in need, regardless of their individual circumstances, with no questions asked.

Jill Makinson-Sanders with some of the items at the baby bank.

She also thanked the people of Louth and the surrounding area for their support and generosity, with countless items being donated to the baby bank.

Jill explained that the church will require the building back later this month, but it has offered the use of St Stephen’s Chapel within the church itself.

But Jill added this had been ruled, out as it is important to have consistent opening times and these would inevitably clash with services and church activities such as funerals.

It is not clear, at this stage, whether any alternative premises will be suitable for the baby bank.

One local mother, Joely Mackenzie, told the Leader: “The baby bank has been an incredible lifeline for families across our community and an invaluable resource for mums, myself included, to swap supplies and items that our babies need, but outgrow so quickly. Thank you to everyone who has been involved.”

• The Louth Leader attempted to contact the Team Parish of Louth several times, but we had not received a response at the time of going to press (Tuesday).