Making a splash for Baby Bank

babybanknetwork_logoMost people can at least walk and talk when they do their first sponsored swim. But not Bristol, Bath and North Somerset’s Water Babies! Babies as young as 8 weeks old will be taking part in their first sponsored swim next week to raise money for other babies in need.

The Really Wild Swim will involve 1250 babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers across the region swimming under water for sponsorship from family and friends. The money raised will go to Bristol’s Baby Bank Network.

Set up in June 2015 by two local mums, the Baby Bank Network is a growing charity that distributes pre-loved baby essentials to families in need, such as refugees, victims of domestic violence and homeless families as well as low income families and teenage mums. The charity needs funds to help pay storage costs, and buy items that can’t be reused like bottle teats and cot mattresses.

main-picfor-water-baby-story“This is a great opportunity to support the incredible work done by the Baby Bank Network,” said Bryony Johnstone who has been running Water Babies in Bristol, Bath and North Somerset for 14 years. “We are both organisations that believe in giving babies the best possible start in life. It’s humbling for us to think how lucky our babies are to have the essentials, and wonderful to have this opportunity to support those who aren’t so fortunate.”

With a wild animal theme, the sponsored swims will include gliding under water like a penguin, swimming through a hoop pushing a ball like a sea-lion and exploring the bottom of the sea looking for fish! Babies, their carers and teachers will also wear wild animal fancy dress!

Overall, this fun event aims to raise around £5,000 for the charity. That money will support 500 families-in-need by providing either a new cot or Moses basket mattress, bottle teats and 6 months’ worth of baby clothes.

“It’s shocking that families in this country have to go without,” said charity co-founder, Eva Fernandez. “Bristol has an unacceptable level of child poverty and we want to help redress the balance by providing every family with the essential items they need to raise a baby.”

In its first year, Baby Bank Network helped 250 vulnerable families referred by health visitors and midwives, Homestart and Shelter.

“We rely on financial donations to be able to buy items such as mattresses and bottle teats ­ which we must provide brand new,” said Eva. “The more referrals we do, the more costs we incur in terms of collecting, storing and cleaning the items. We’ve got a brilliant team of volunteers and are delivering the service very efficiently, but we always need more funds to help cover our overheads. Fundraisers such as these are vital for us to build on the great work we’ve already done.”

Figures estimate that a quarter of children in Bristol live below the poverty line. According to a recent study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, a baby costs £11,498 in its first year alone!

The Really Wild Swim will take place from November 7th – 13th 2016 in classes throughout Bristol, Bath and WSM.

For further information please contact Bryony Johnstone at Water Babies on 0117 946 6919 or look at the website www.waterbabies.co.uk or  Laura Williams on press@babybanknetwork.com and www.babybanknetwork.com/.

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