The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

First branch of Christian baby charity in Norfolk

A team of mums from Dersingham in West Norfolk have set up the first Norfolk based branch of the Christian charity Baby Basics, blessing new parents in financial crisis with a beautifully packaged Moses basket filled with essential items for their newborn.

In December 2015 Davina Barrett, Kelly Stevenson and Tomris Setchell, three Christian mums from Dersingham, founded West Norfolk Baby Basics with the backing of their local church St Nicholas Dersingham
It began last summer, when Davina Barrett’s son was two months old and she read an article in The Independent that caught her attention.   The story detailed accounts of parents who, faced with desperate financial circumstances, were being prosecuted for stealing nappies and milk for their baby.  Davina says it was like God was guiding her and she was prompted to research what was available to parents who lacked the resources to provide for their newborns.
It led her to find the Sheffield based Christian charity ‘Baby Basics UK’ which collects, packages and donates Moses baskets full of clothing, toiletries and essential baby equipment as attractive gifts for new mothers in need.  The growing charity has 11 local branches around the country.
Davina spoke to her health visitor to ascertain whether there was a need within her West Norfolk community for the service.  She said:  “I was having conversations with my health visitor. I said: ‘Look, we live in rural, affluent West Norfolk.  We’ve got Kate and Wills just up the road, surely there can’t be any need, can there?’  She said: ‘You have no idea!’  And it was like, right, we need to do something about this.”
Davina took the idea of starting a local branch of Baby Basics to the vicar of her church, St Nicholas Dersingham, who agreed with the PCC to back the venture.  So alongside Kelly and Tomris, Davina founded the West Norfolk branch of the Baby Basics charity just before Christmas last year. 
BabyBasicsWN270Referrals for the Moses baskets come through health visitors, midwives, social workers and Stonham housing, and it is these professionals who deliver the packs to the families.   So far 8 Moses baskets have been packed and delivered with two in the pipeline for the coming fortnight.
Davina said: “We are averaging one a week at the moment. We are starting small.  We are only a small team.  We are all stay-at-home mums with lots of responsibilities so one a week is good just now while we are growing.” 
The baskets are already having a big impact.  One health visitor described how one of the recipient mums burst into tears when she saw the package, and the team received a home-made thank you card from another mum with a photo of her grinning with the basket.
The initiative has also impressed the health professionals.  Davina said: “It is a blessing to see the faces of the health visitors when we give them a basket. It is just amazing for them to see what we are doing.  Without banging the Christian drum, it is just a case of here’s a basket with all our love.  That has been very powerful. We’ve had huge support from them.”
The baskets are filled with donated clothes, nappies, blankets and toiletries.  The Knit and Natter group from St Nicholas Dersingham and the St Edmund’s Crafty Knitters in Downham have got on board with the cause and are supplying knitted items for the baskets. 
Davina said: “It has really touched people’s hearts.  We’ve had donations from everywhere.  And being able to include knitted items is wonderful because it shows that someone has sat down and bothered to knit, which shows that they care.” 
The West Norfolk Baby Basics team are effectively forming partnerships across the community to further their mission. The local pre-school has donated a room for the charity to use as a storage facility, and the local NCT has set up a clothes bank filled with pre-loved clothes up to 5 years, for recipient parents to access once their babies grow out of their original donated clothes.
Davina said: “I wish every parish had a Baby Basics, because you just don’t realise the need.  It’s the pockets of deprivation that we are trying to help.   It is such a vulnerable time.”
If you would like to donate to West Norfolk Baby Basics they would be keen to receive cellular blankets, nappies and financial donations in order to buy new Moses basket mattresses which cost around £10 each. 
You can contact the team at babybasicswestnorfolk@gmail.com or read more on their Facebook page.
To read more about Baby Basics UK and how to set up a branch of the charity in your area go to www.baby-basics.org.uk.
Photo (L-R):  Co-founders Tomris Setchell, Davina Barrett, Kelly Stevenson

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