Pop up baby bank in Derry’s Rosemount Factory
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The baby bank is free to use, with some larger items having a small cost and there will also be tea and coffee for parents to connect.
Steph McAlinden is a member of the church and one of the organisers of the baby bank. She said: “When we first moved here into the Rosemount Factory, we began to work with the local partnerships. So, whatever need arose we would help in any way we could. We run a few other compassion projects with Foyle Women’s Aid and collecting food for the Churches Trust Foodbank.
“During lockdown, we were reacting to the need as it came up. People would message us to say they need clothes or food and we would help on a one to one basis. There was a theme popping up, however, of women who were expecting and were finding it difficult to resource themselves for that stage of life. So we threw out a Facebook post for donations and we were overwhelmed with people donating things. People realised that the baby bank would have been of great benefit to them when they had young ones so they wanted to give some of the things back.
“I have a three year old now and, when we started this, I realised that I had banked up a lot of clothes that friends had given me and my little boy might have only worn them once or twice, so they were immaculate. I didn’t know what to do with them because a lot of charity shops won’t even take baby clothes so it got to the point where I, myself had lots of stuff that someone could use. It’s such a cost to have a baby, why would you pay £20 for a babygrow when someone you know probably has boxes of them in the attic? It’s a way to bring all that together and create a resource. Why not try to get that stuff out to someone who needs it?
“Clothes are completely free, we’re coming down with clothes so we tell people to come and take all they want. We put a small price on other items, maybe £10 for a buggy or £5 for a high chair. Then you would get people coming in for clothes and they want to give you money for it too, people are just so generous. Sometimes people will come back and return all the things they got previously and more because their child has grown out of it and they need the next size up. You just get so much stuff when you have a baby but there’s a need there too so why not give it away? We also try to provide a ‘newborn care package’ for everyone who comes that is expecting or has just had a baby to help new mothers along.
“We did one pop-up baby bank last year and people used it for the baby bank but the space where we do tea and coffee, I think, is maybe the most important space. So out of that, we made Tea and Tots, where people can come and chat. The baby bank is there too but this is more about relationship, community and connection. I think, in particular during the pandemic, people became quite isolated and in those early years you just need other parents and it’s great for kids to have other kids too. So, certainly, we’ve tried to create those spaces as well for people to have a community and connection.
“If anyone wanted to donate clothes or other items, we are very willing to take that off them. I think people struggle to find somewhere to send their stuff so we’re happy to take it at the Rosemount Factory. I’m here every Wednesday and Friday but we’re open for people to call in and use the space too.”