NURTURING a new life is a special time.

The excitement of a new arrival is shared among family and friends who immediately become busy in preparation buying clothing and all the essential equipment a new baby needs.

It is a time to cherish but imagine those families without loved ones around to offer practical help and support; who have been forced to flee their country of origin and find sanctuary hundreds of miles away in another town or city.

Lorely Rossell recalls one mum, an asylum seeker who was moved to somewhere unfamiliar at short notice. “She had a two year old son and was about to have her baby. She was moved to Bradford and two days later had the baby. She had lots of support back home but she arrived with as much as she could carry and had the baby so we were able to give her a starter pack with all the things she needed.”

Lorely is referring to the ‘Baby Basics’ project she became involved in after setting up a group in Bradford.

Initially born at The Kings Centre in Sheffield in the spring of 2009, Baby Basics is a volunteer-led project aiming to support new mothers and families who are struggling financially and practically in caring for a new baby.

Baby Basics provides much needed essentials and equipment to mothers and families including teenage mums, people seeking asylum and women fleeing domestic abuse and trafficking.

The centre, which supports families across Sheffield and works with a range of frontline health and social care professionals, has since rolled out its work across a network of Baby Basics centres across the country.

Hannah Peck, director of Baby Basics, explains they now have 30 different centres including Dover, Somerset, Birmingham, Leicester.

Bradford’s Baby Basic project was born over a year ago.”I have my own children and was looking for a place to take all the things they had grown out of,” explains Lorely.

She found out about the project and was keen to set one up closer to home. “We worked closely with midwives and other professionals to get to the mums who really need it. It sounded like something I wanted to set up in Bradford.”

Lorely had already met some mums who were asylum seekers living in the local community.

“You know food banks are growing and you hear about needs out there and this is a group I could do something to help,” explains Lorely.

The project developed from her spare room and is continuing to meet the needs of the local mums.

Lorely explains women are often referred to the project through midwives or organisations such as Women’s Aid and youth centres.

Some of the women have fled a violent relationship. Lorely recalls the young mum helped by the project who decided in hospital after having her baby that she wouldn’t return to her violent partner.

“She couldn’t go back to get her things so we sent a pack to the hospital,” recalls Lorely.

Among the generous donations they receive are hand-knitted cardigans from the WI in Clayton. Local Guides, Mother’s Union, mother and baby groups and businesses, including Yorkshire Building Society, have also supported the initiative.

Lorely says people appreciate how costly it is buying clothing and equipment for a newborn.”It is very easy for people to relate to. They know they need a lot of stuff and everyone can relate to how hard it can be if you don’t have funds to buy things yourself,” she explains.

Starter packs include a moses basket with a new mattress; nappies; toiletries and blankets.

“A lot of these mums don’t have family giving them a lot of presents. They don’t have much at all. We put in as many nice things as we can and present it beautifully and put in things for mum as well,” says Lorely.

Since the Bradford initiative began they recently handed out their 100th starter pack. “It’s a small thing but it’s enough if you are in a situation and you cannot see a way through it. It allows people to take that next step,” says Lorely.

And Baby Basics is certainly meeting a demand. “The need nationally is huge,” says Hannah.

“We are really delighted that there are other groups and people around the country who are saying we can see this can work for our communities and we know we can make a difference. We are delighted to be supporting them. They are doing a brilliant job up there.”

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