Member of the Month – Baby Basics

Member of the Month – Baby Basics

Each month, one of our small charity members is celebrated for all the hard work they do for their beneficiaries as well as being an engaged FSI member. This February, our Member of the Month is Baby Basics– congratulations to their fantastic team! Hannah Peck has written this profile to let you know more about their organisation.

What is your charity’s mission?

Baby Basics aims to provide good quality and safe provision of baby equipment, clothing and toiletries to families who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to provide them for themselves across the city of Sheffield.

We also provide support and training to churches and community groups who run the same scheme in their local communities – helping them to set up and launch the project and supporting them to sustain it for the long term.

How do you achieve this?

Locally we work with a team of volunteers who take donations from the local community, wash iron, fix and clean items ready to be packed up in to packages of support tailored to the needs of the family. Requests for support come to us through midwives, health visitors, social workers and other front-line organisations, including other charities. This helps us to get the support to some of the most vulnerable and isolated members of the community including but not limited to people seeking asylum, survivors of human trafficking and domestic abuse.

Working with other groups around the UK we provide information and resources to facilitate the set up of a new project, we provide publicity materials and an online management system to make the running of the project as straight forward and simple as possible, we also make available on-going one to one support for team leaders. As well as this we host regular support days where the team leaders are gathered together for training, sharing of best practice and of course encouragement from other people doing a similar work.

What are your successes to date?

In 2017 in Sheffield we gave away over 1,200 packages of support to families, this includes cots, bundles of clothing, pushchairs and beautiful Moses basket starter packs. Recently we were told about a lady who is seeking asylum in the UK, she had been offered English lessons and she was keen to take up this opportunity. This was a wonderful chance to start integrating into her new community, however she was unable to attend the classes as she has a small baby and wasn’t able to negotiate buses across the city as she didn’t have a pushchair. Baby Basics was able to step in and provide her with a pushchair. This practical help released her for the isolation of her flat and gave her the chance to access these potentially life changing classes.   

Baby Basics in Sheffield has been running for nearly 9 years, and has built up good relationships with numerous services supporting vulnerable women across the city of Sheffield. Relationship and working together is the key to success – it enables us to sign post people to other services, learn more about our own service and how it can be improved and look towards improving the city and not just our organisation. We therefore very much consider these strong links between groups and organisation to be one of our greatest successes.

For the last five years we have been working with other churches and community groups to help them set up and run similar Baby Basics schemes for their communities. There are currently 30 different Baby Basics centres across the country delivering a safe and reliable service to support very vulnerable families.

What challenges do you face as a small charity?

Our core team at Baby Basics remain those who founded the organisation in 2009 – this brings dedication and a strong sense of purpose but also means that we have had to learn a lot of the skills and processes of running a charity as we’ve gone along.

Our on going challenges include managing volunteers – a wonderful and essential part of charity life but not without its challenges! And of course the perennial challenge of fundraising and building a programme that gives stability to the project.

What is your relationship with the FSI?

The Baby Basics teams has undertaken a number of FSI training days and workshops, they are excellent quality and have really allowed us to think carefully about our fundraising and engage with it in a much more effective manner. The low cost of the training has meant that we have been able to release different members of the team to attend and to skill up the whole team, meaning that we are all thinking more clearly and consistently about our fundraising needs.

We have also attended the FSI Skills Conference in London which was great in terms of understanding more of the ‘back office’ skills that we are still mastering. This was a good place to link up with other organisations, vetted by the FSI that provide further training to consolidate these skills. Through the FSI we were able to link up with Liberty Accounts and enjoy a good relationship with them, using their system to manage our accounts.

We have also engaged a member of the FSI team to deliver bespoke training to our team leaders from around the UK at our summer conference.

What does winning member of the month mean to you?

It’s fab to be member of the month! The FSI has been a pleasure to work with and we so appreciate their desire to support and enable smaller charities to function at their very best, we definitely feel more equipped and empowered through our relationship with them to achieve all we set out to do for women and families.

Interested in learning more, visit the Baby Basics website for more information.