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13 October 2022

COST-OF-LIVING CRISIS: New survey of baby banks finds families watering down formula, babies with pressure sores from rationed nappies and a child sleeping in a drawer

Little Village press release

Embargoed until 00:01 on Thursday 13th October 2022

Contact: Emma Gibbs, Communications Manager at Little Village on 07593135790

COST-OF-LIVING CRISIS: New survey of baby banks finds families watering down formula, babies with pressure sores from rationed nappies and a child sleeping in a drawer

A new UK-wide survey of baby banks has uncovered some of the desperate measures that families are taking to make ends meet during the cost-of-living crisis.

Little Village, which runs a network of baby banks across London, carried out a survey of UK baby banks. Of the 55 baby banks that responded, over 90% said that 2022 is their busiest year yet, with many stating that the cost-of-living crisis is to blame.

The survey revealed some of the shocking circumstances experienced by families supported by baby banks, including:

  1. A family using sanitary towels as nappies as had no spare money to buy nappies (baby bank in Somerset).
  2. A mum of three who was unable to afford to heat her home so comes to the baby bank to keep warm for a few hours. The family take the bus from one town to another a few days a week to keep warm (baby bank in Derbyshire).
  3. Child with a grade 3 pressure sore due to extreme rationing of nappies (baby bank in the North East of England)
  4. Several families who are not giving their children a hot meal each day as they can’t afford to turn the oven on (baby bank in Oxfordshire).
  5. Mother sitting in the dark all day with nothing turned on at all until the children came home from school (location not provided)
  6. A parent reusing nappies after the baby had pooed in it (baby bank in Gloucestershire).
  7. A family requesting a bed as their child was sleeping in a drawer and they could not afford to provide one (baby bank in Lincolnshire)
  8. A mum using tissue paper for sanitary wear (baby bank in Lancashire)
  9. Family rationing calpol as they couldn’t afford it (location not provided)
  10. A family whose 7-year-old child was sleeping in a travel cot as they couldn’t afford a bed. There were two families living in the same house. Baby bank couldn’t provide a single bed as there wasn’t space for one, so provided a mattress for a toddler bed which was better than a travel cot (location not provided).

The survey asked baby banks about the impact that the cost-of-living crisis is having, or will have, on the families they support.

  • 91% of baby banks said they see children wearing ill-fitting shoes or clothes (ie no coat or shoes too small)
  • 89 % said families are unable to afford basic hygiene products (soap, toothpaste, bubble bath)
  • 87% said families are unable to pay the bills
  • 83% said families are forced to ration nappies
  • 79% said families are unable to heat the home
  • 73% said children are going hungry
  • 70% said children have no safe place to sleep (ie sleeping on floor or in bed with parents or siblings)

The survey asked baby banks what they thought about the Government’s support package to address the cost-of-living crisis, including the £2500 price cap on energy bills. Seventy-two per cent baby banks said this was too little, too late and that the support package won’t help those already in poverty.

You can read the full report of the results of the survey here.

CEO of Little Village, Sophie Livingstone MBE, said:

“Our survey paints an extremely bleak picture of families living in extreme poverty in this country. Babies left in filthy nappies because their parents can’t afford to replace them; young children in pain because their families can’t afford to buy Calpol; others living in cold, dark, unsafe homes.

“It doesn’t have to be this way and I would urge the Government to take immediate action to address this hidden crisis of extreme child poverty. Bankers’ pockets are getting fatter, whilst babies are going cold and hungry. At a minimum, benefits should be uprated in line with inflation. We also need changes to the systems that trap people in poverty such as unaffordable housing and childcare.”

“For people who want to know how to help, there are baby banks across the country in urgent need of donated items, financial donations and volunteers. Many of these services are really struggling as many people can no longer afford to donate their time, money or items as the cost-of-living continues to rise.”

Steph Archbold from Love, Amelia baby bank in Sunderland said:

“The North-East has the highest child poverty rate in the country and we’re certainly feeling the impact of that, we’re the busiest we’ve ever been and have supported 6,000 children since 2018 which is just shocking. The sad thing is, many of the parents we see are in work, with lots working in services like the NHS, but they’re just not paid enough to make ends meet.

“We’re seeing lots of families who can’t afford to pay their bills and have been evicted or moved in with family members. Many are living in over-crowded homes. One mum we saw had to move in with her mum, she had one child sleeping in the dining room and the others in the living room.

“There needs to be more support for families including more help for working families. The benefits system needs to be improved.”

Mum, Jade, who recently visited a Little Village baby bank said:

“My baby has a problem with her kidney and heart so we have to go back and forth to hospital with her. Sometimes I have to cancel the appointments because I don’t have enough money to get there.

“We have to limit how much electricity we can use in the house so it’s more or less just reading, when it gets dark we’ll put the TV on and the lights back on. While my stepdaughters are at school we turn everything off, the boiler, everything gets shut down until I have to cook or run a bath for everyone. The uncertainty is stressing me out … I’m dreading winter.

“The government need to put something in place to help people live a normal life, the bare minimum. Gas, electricity and water should be the bare minimum that everyone has access to. A month ago we had no hot water at all. Thank God it was warm outside but imagine this happened when it was winter.”


Notes to editors

About Little Village

Little Village supports families with babies and children under five living in poverty across London.  We run a baby bank network, collecting, sorting and passing on pre-loved clothes and equipment.  Parents are also supported by our dedicated signposting and guidance team, who offer advice and links to other services. In addition, we work with families to share their stories and campaign to fix the systems that trap them in poverty.

We are based in London, with hubs in Camden, Wandsworth, Southwark, Brent, Hackney and Hounslow.

Since we launched in 2016, we’ve supported over 25,000 children across London.

Our values of love, solidarity, thriving and sustainability underpin everything we do.

Find your nearest baby bank here:

Find out more about the impact of the cost of living crisis on our work here:

We’ve also put together an overview of resources that might help families with young children who are struggling with the increased cost of livingwhich you can access here

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