The Salvation Army in Stornoway are launching a new 'Baby Bank' to help support families with the cost of having a child. Commanding officer Lieutenant Emma Newton explains, ‘In recent months we have had an increase in requests for help from families who are struggling with the costs of having a child. Due to the level of availability of baby clothes, toiletries and equipment on the island, together with the high cost of such items, families are struggling financially. The Baby Bank will be able to supply key items for children between 0-36 months.'

Through generous donations of clothes, nursery equipment, nappies, wipes and toiletries, The Salvation Army has already assisted a handful of families. But there is an ongoing need which it is hoped the Baby Bank will be able to meet, and they are working closely with other agencies who will be able to refer parents to the Baby Bank.  If anyone is requiring assistance in the meantime, they are very welcome to just drop in to the Baby Bank any time during opening hours.

The Baby Bank intends to provide for families on a needs basis, with each request treated individually. It will rely on the donations of good quality items from the general public. Lt. Emma explains ‘our donations so far have come from parents whose children have outgrown clothes before they’ve barely been worn, and from others who have added a packet of nappies or bottle of baby shampoo to their shopping baskets each week.’

Just as people are referred to the Food Bank for help when needed, The Salvation Army intend the Baby Bank to provide help for families in their time of need. The Baby Bank will be open from 10am-12pm Tuesdays and Thursdays, both to accept donations and also to provide assistance -  there will also be tea, coffee and biscuits available, as well as a safe place for the children to play. If help is needed outside of these times, an appointment can be made over the phone. ‘We want to provide not only practical support, but also a space where parents can talk about life, their child’s milestones and know that they are not alone in the journey of parenthood,’ said Lt. Emma. ‘Anyone can come to any of our activities, regardless of age, gender, religious background or financial status’.

It’s no accident that the opening times of the Baby Bank are just before lunch club either. ‘Lunch Club is a time where people from all walks of life come and share a meal together, and we will invite anyone who comes into the Baby Bank to stay and have lunch’, adds Lt. Emma. And for only £2.50 for a two-course meal it is easy to see why it’s popular.

Baby Banks exist in various locations around the UK as the need to help families emerges. The Salvation Army operates several in the UK, particularly in London.

Lt. Emma said 'I'd like to say to everyone, particularly parents, if you or anyone you know in the Western Isles could benefit from this then please do not hesitate or be embarrassed to contact us. Talk to your health visitor if you prefer, but please don’t struggle. We already have items to distribute and are willing to pass them out to anyone who needs them across the Western Isles.’