Mum opens baby bank project to fight childhood poverty 

Natalie Wood opened the bank with her partner after witnessing local children and families struggling with basic necessities.

Fife mum opens baby bank project to fight childhood poverty LDRS

Natalie Wood, from Leslie, knows what it’s like to be a parent in poverty. Just six and a half years ago, she was receiving help from a baby bank herself.  Now, she is looking to give back as much as she can. 

Ms Wood opened Fife’s Bouncing Baby Baby Bank with her partner this summer after witnessing local children and families struggling with basic necessities first hand. 

“We’ve been in Leslie for just over two years, and in that time, I’ve seen kids going back to school on their first day with holes in their shoes from last year. I’ve seen kids with trousers that don’t fit them. It’s really upsetting to witness,” she said. 

“I see these kids walk past the house – kids that haven’t got anything and you can tell. The parents just can’t afford to buy them anything.” 

Just a few weeks ago, Fife Council’s executive director of communities, presented the annual poverty and prevention report to Fife’s Partnership Board.

It revealed childhood poverty rates across Fife are above the national average, directly contrary to council ambition.

The latest data suggests that 23.2% of children in Fife are living in relative poverty before housing costs – 18.5% are living in absolute poverty.

Buckhaven, Methil and Wemyss Villages were ranked the worst in Fife – a shocking 34.4% of children in this region live in relative poverty. Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty were not far behind with 33.3%.

Ms Wood said she has seen those figures reflected in the real world through work at the Bouncing Baby Baby Bank. 

“We’ve had countless referrals,” she said. “We’ve been open since the end of June and in that time, we’ve had over 60 referrals from midwives, health visitors, people self-referring, mothers referring their daughters. It goes from anything from nappies, baby milk, all the way up to cots, cot beds, and car seats.” 

Bouncing Baby will not turn anyone away who is in crisis, according to Ms Wood. 

“We will do the best we can to help. That’s just how we work,” she said. 

The Bouncing Baby Baby Bank relies entirely on community donations. Ms Wood and two other volunteers sort through donations and redistribute them within the community as soon as possible. 

“Our vision is that our community works together to ensure that all families with young children have the basic items they need,” the organisation explained. 

“Our aims are to relieve poverty by providing good quality new and pre-owned baby items to families experiencing poverty or crisis; to promote sustainable living by reducing the volume of items disposed of and upcycling goods that still have plenty of life left.; and to redistribute resources from where they are abundant to where they are lacking, reducing parental stress, anxiety and depression, in turn helping children.” 

Poverty is a first hand issue for Ms Wood. She knows what it’s like to be a parent struggling to afford basic necessities. 

In 2016, she and her eldest child ran from an abusive relationship with a rucksack each and the clothes on their back. 

“A baby bank helped me when I had nothing and I started Bouncing Baby to give back what I can,” she explained. 

“No one can put themselves in those shoes unless they have been in those shoes. No one can really relate to being in poverty unless they’ve been there. You scrimp and save, you don’t get anywhere because an unexpected bill comes out. It is isolating. You don’t know where to turn to for help, you don’t know when you’re going to get listened to.” 

Bouncing Baby is hoping to work towards registered charity status, but for now the organisation is filling a gap in the community. 

Ms Wood explained: “My mum always said ‘you can’t raise a baby on your own – it takes a village to raise a child.’ We want to start that village and make it as big as possible to help as many children as possible. That is our goal. And if we can help anyone else in between we will do.” 

For more information about the Bouncing Baby Baby Bank visit their website or Facebook.

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