Research carried out exclusively for a BBC programme by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that 300,000 babies under the age of one are living in poverty in the UK. Parents across the country are turning to baby banks to provide essentials for newborns and young children.
Baby banks work like food banks, they are run by volunteers and supplied by donations. There are now more than 100 baby banks in existence in the UK. 10 of these are in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
BBC Inside Out (Yorkshire and Lincolnshire) has spoken to Jane Robinson from Tiny Hands Baby Bank in Pontefract in West Yorkshire. She explains how demand on the baby bank she set up has increased: “We get referrals through health professionals mainly….. the first week we set up I think we had two referrals, we’re now up to near on 1000 referrals in our first two years.”
One of those referrals was Vicki Miller, a single mum from Castleford. The baby bank was a lifeline for her and her young son Charlie.
Vicki said: “It was absolutely amazing receiving a gift full of baby stuff that is going to benefit Charlie. It was the greatest thing ever. There was a mixture of clothes in there including warm outdoor clothing, some brightly coloured toys for development. And there was a safety gate in there too which came in so handy as not long after that he started crawling.”
Vicki worked full time before she had Charlie. She now works two days a week and currently lives above the official poverty line though this doesn’t take into account childcare costs or loans. Every week is a battle to make ends meet and she budgets carefully.
Vicki explains: “My ideal budget is £30, maximum budget of £40, a week for food, fuel and days out. If I didn’t do this there could be a good possibility that two or three weeks before pay day I’d have no money to last the rest of the week or the rest of the month.
“When I was working full time I wouldn’t think about spending £30 or £40 pounds on a meal out, a night out with your mates. That’s what we are having to live on now – it’s hard, it is hard.”
Vicki says she would be better off on benefits but she wants to work: “I don’t want Charlie to think money is just handed to you on a plate. If you want money, you want things, you have to work for them.”
The full programme on BBC Inside Out in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire was aired on Monday 11 February at 7.30pm on BBC One. The programme is now available to watch on the BBC iPlayer