A vicar in Cornwall has launched a volunteer led project which supports new parents who are struggling to meet the financial and practical burden of looking after a new baby.
Reverend Becca Bell, a priest in Liskeard, is behind the first Baby Basics facility in Cornwall. She tells Premier that more new parents are in need as a result of the pandemic :
"A lot of the poverty in Cornwall is very hidden, and on first sight, you don't see it. And I noticed in the parishes where I work, that there's a real sense of pride. And often people don't always come forward for the help that they are entitled to or that they need. But speaking to health visitors, they're definitely seeing an increase in families accessing benefits and other support as their situation has really fallen over this last year. And of course, it's particularly hard for people becoming parents for the first time this year."
Baby Basics started in Sheffield in 2009 and works with a wide range of frontline health and social care professionals. It provides much needed essentials and equipment to mothers and families who are unable to provide these items for themselves; including but not limited to teenage mums, people seeking asylum and women fleeing domestic abuse and trafficking.
Rev Becca says her hub will give out bundles for the first three months of a baby's life :
"We pack it all beautifully into a Moses basket. And it will contain clothes like baby grows and vests and little jackets, some boots and a few hats, blankets, towel and toiletries, a few packs of nappies, some wipes, and maybe a couple of treats for mum as well, because we know what a fragile time it is having a baby, I'm a mum myself, so I appreciate how much help like this could help somebody who's particularly vulnerable."
The new Baby Basics facility is due to open in June. Becca hopes holidaymakers to Cornwall will be encouraged to donate some items to collection boxes at churches in the area.
And she tells Premier, it's absolutely right that the church should be at the heart of this sort of project :
"We know we're going to be meeting a practical need and sharing very practical love. Also, there's other benefits, which are kind of anticipated, but I've been blown away at how great it's been. Quite a few of our volunteers who've come alongside us are folk who aren't connected with church at all. They're mums, from school, who when I share the Word of this happening, they've wanted to come on board and help. And so we've got some fantastic connections with folk outside of our church walls, which for parish churches in Cornwall is a really big deal because that's not always easy. So there's been massive unseen benefits in terms of the church coming to life in a new way."