Interview - Cat Ross, CEO, Baby Basics

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The charity, which works like a food bank for baby provision, has seen a huge rise in demand for its services for new mothers

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Cat Ross, CEO, Baby Basics

WHAT DOES BABY BASICS DO?

Through referrals from midwives, health visitors, social workers and other professionals, we provide for vulnerable mums all they need to give their baby a safe space to sleep and a good start in life. We have 35 Baby Basics centres across the UK, which provide a range of provision from a Moses Starter Pack (which includes clothes, blankets, nappies, wipes, toiletries for baby and mum) to clothing bundles, high chairs, cots, cot beds, toys and pushchairs. Every moses basket, cot and cot bed is given a brand-new mattress to ensure we meet NHS safe sleep requirements.

We rely on the generosity of our wonderful volunteers to process donations from the public and pack our baskets to go out to the mums in need.

Not only does our provision give a baby and mum what they need, but it helps to bring dignity back to these women who come from all sorts of circumstances, including having fled domestic violence, women seeking asylum, teenage mums and those struggling with the rising cost of living.

We want to show that these babies and their mums are precious, they are cared for and they are loved.

WHY DO YOU THINK THERE HAS BEEN A RISE IN DEMAND FOR YOUR SUPPORT?

From 2016-2018 we have seen a 77 per cent increase in the provision we give out from our inaugural centre in Sheffield, and have seen a 93 per cent rise of provision distributed from across our centres throughout the UK.

We continually receive enquiries from organisations looking to establish a new Baby Basics centre, and at present are looking at a minimum 10 per cent growth this year.

There are a number of reasons, including changes to the benefit system and Universal Credit, and the rise in the cost of living. Some of the increase we have seen has come solely from organisations hearing of our work and now knowing that they can refer into our service. Some of the need has always been there, but has been more hidden from society.

What is important to us is that we can continue to meet the needs of these women and their babies.

WHAT DO YOU FIND FAMILIES STRUGGLE WITH THE MOST?

Families struggle in many areas of their lives and receiving support from us can help to not only give them a safe place for their baby to sleep, but also access to their community and the confidence to know they can provide for their new bundle of joy. Our hope is that by providing the essentials for babies and young children, families can use finances to provide the other essentials, including food.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE GOVERNMENT OR POLICYMAKERS SHOULD BE DOING TO HELP?

We would love to see our Government and policymakers help the UK create a society where organisations such as Baby Basics and food banks no longer need to exist, where all needs are cared for and statutory services are given enough funding to do this well. Until then, we will continue to support people and communities and provide for babies just starting out in their lives.

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