Vital support for babies across Antrim and Newtownabbey

A charity which supports the families of babies and toddlers in the greater Ballyclare area and further afield celebrated its 100th referral yesterday (Thursday).

Baby Basics Antrim and Newtownabbey, which is part of a wider UK charity, is based beside Christ Church in Ballynure.

The local arm of the service, which was founded in 2019, is part of the Church of Ireland’s ‘Compassion Ministries.’

It is a volunteer-led project aiming to support new mothers and families who are struggling to meet the financial and practical burden of looking after a new baby or a child up to the age of two.

Rev Campbell-Smyth with Baby Basics Co-ordinator Frances Wilson with NHSCT representatives.

Speaking to the Times, Rev Jonny Campbell-Smyth (United Parish of Ballynure and Ballyeaston), said: “We’re supported by agencies including the Northern Trust, Women’s Aid, Mindwise and Sure Start.

“Everyone who receives donations from Baby Basics is through referrals. Professionals, including midwives may refer someone in need. They liaise with our volunteers and packs suitable to the family’s needs are made. The midwife collects the pack and distributes it to the family, meaning it takes away some of the stigma and helps with safeguarding.

“When we started in 2019, we were getting one or two referrals per month. Now, we get two or three a week and on November 25 we marked our 100th.”

He added: “Everything we provide is donated, but we only give the best. If an item is not the best of quality, we won’t provide it to our referrals. If we’re asked to send a Moses basket, we’ll get a new mattress for this client.

Baby Basics volunteers with representatives from Mindwise.

“All donations are washed and ironed and presented to the family wrapped like a present. We don’t want the people feeling like they’re getting someone’s ‘hand-me downs.’

“I’d like to thank the agencies who support us, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, our volunteers and everyone who donates. The service is vital and no one is ever turned away.”

For more information, check out the Baby Basics Antrim and Newtownabbey Facebook page.

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