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February 23, 2022

UK baby banks: families in poverty face 'worst year yet'

Little Village press release

Embargoed until 00:01 Wednesday 23rd February 2022

Contact: Emma Gibbs 07593 135 790

UK baby banks: families in poverty face ‘worst year yet’

New research from London baby bank, Little Village, has been released today showing that UK baby banks fear that 2022 will be the worst year yet for families trapped in poverty.

Ninety-eight per cent of the 90 baby banks surveyed by Little Village said 2022 will be their busiest year yet.

The research shows that baby banks believe that the rising cost of living is to blame for so many families needing support from their services, with almost all – 90% – listing this as the top reason for families needing help.

The top reasons baby banks gave for families needing their help are:

  • Rising living costs: 90%
  • Cut to Universal Credit uplift: 77%
  • Job losses due to covid: 58%
  • Housing costs: 48%
  • Childcare costs: 31%

When asked what impact poverty is having on the children they support, the baby banks said:

  • Children not wearing adequate clothing or shoes, such as having no winter coat, or shoes too small: 94%
  • Children not having a safe place to sleep, for example babies sleeping on towels, sofa cushions, co-sleeping with parents and siblings: 79%
  • Lacking basic hygiene products like soap, bubble bath, toothpaste: 74%
  • Emotional or social problems: 69%
  • Children not having nappy changed regularly due to lack of nappies: 62%
  • Children going hungry: 36%

It is thought that over 1.3 million of the four million children living in poverty in the UK are aged under five.

Sophie Livingstone MBE, CEO of Little Village, said:

“Sadly, these shocking figures, which show just how desperate life is for so many families, come as no surprise. Every day we support families who are unable to provide the essential items their children need, things like nappies, warm clothing and buggies are seen as unaffordable luxuries.

“Money is in such short supply for so many families that even a slight increase to energy bills or food prices could tip them into crisis.

“With rising living costs, one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world, high housing costs and the fallout from the pandemic, low income families face setback after setback. It feels like they’re being forgotten about – the Government’s Levelling Up paper doesn’t even mention child poverty.

“We are calling on the Government to provide financial support for these families, as well as making changes to the systems that trap them in poverty in the first place such as housing and childcare costs and benefit rates.”

A London mother of three young children, Isabel* (not her real name), said:

“I’m currently living off £49 a week. I’ve noticed that the prices in the shops have gone up and today I used the food bank to get by.

“My fuel bills are really high. Our windows are mouldy and drafty but the council won’t fix them. If I turn on the heating it just goes out the window.

“The kids are freezing … we’re all sharing the same bed to try and stay warm. They complain all the time about how cold they are. Last night my son was so upset because his feet were so cold, they were like ice. I’m not getting much sleep. So, we’re all in the same cold, mouldy room and there are leaks in the walls which makes it more damp.”

Emilie de Bruijn, Chair of Hartlepool Baby Bank said:

“We are seeing a rise week-on-week and I fear for the future. I worry that with the National Insurance hike, rising energy costs and the fuel cap rise, life from April onwards is going to be impossible for many families. Those who are just getting by now are going to find themselves under the breadline and those who are struggling are being driven further down.

“I wish those in charge of the country could see what they are doing to the marginalised; making them feel even more forgotten and uncared about. Do they ever think about the children going to school hungry or in ‘poor clothing’? Those kids who face the mockery of other children, or are living in fear that they might find out that they have nice clothes because mum went to the local baby bank.

“I wish more people knew they could donate good quality, used items, or those who can afford it maybe popped another packet of wipes into their shopping, that recommending us to friends to donate items can actually lead to a family hearing about how to get support.”

Little Village is a baby bank, providing clothes, toys and equipment for babies and children up to the age of five. The charity accepts donations of excellent condition, pre-loved items, which are passed on to families needing support. It has sites in Camden, Wandsworth, Southwark and Brent and has supported over 17,000 children across London since being set up in 2016.

Please visit Little Village’s website to find out more about their work, including how to volunteer or donate money or children’s items.

Ends

Notes to editors

For more information or to arrange an interview with Sophie Livingstone, please contact Emma Gibbs emma@littlevillagehq.org or 07593 135 790

Find out more about Little Village here littlevillagehq.org

Find your nearest baby bank here: littlevillagehq.org/uk-baby-banks

Little Village is like a foodbank, but for clothes, toys and equipment for babies and children up to the age of 5. We’ve grown to be one of the largest ‘baby banks’ in the UK, supporting over 17,000 children since we launched in 2016.  Families are referred to us via a network of over 2,000 professionals such as midwives and social workers.  Little Village’s vision is that every child in the capital has the essential items they need to thrive.

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