The Duchess of Cambridge has visited a baby bank where she helped workers and spoke with families who rely on the service.
On Tuesday, Kate Middleton continued her longstanding work in supporting families with a trip to Baby Basics UK in Sheffield.
Following private visits to Baby Basics West Norfolk earlier this year, where the duchess heard more about the baby bank’s need for donations, she spearheaded a drive for donations of items for babies from brands and high street retailers.
In total, nineteen brands, including John Lewis, Matalan, The White Company and Jojo Maman Bebe have donated items to Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities, who operate baby banks across the UK.
During the visit, the duchess helped unload pallets of the donations before speaking with families about their experience of baby banks.
“Over recent months, I have heard from families who have been supported by baby banks through the most difficult of times and I have been deeply moved by their stories,” Kate said.
“Having somewhere to turn to for support is important for all families, and baby banks work every day, up and down the country, to provide immediate, tangible and practical help for parents and carers when they are most in need.”
She continued: “Baby banks are driven by incredible volunteers, demonstrating the power of community spirit in supporting families and coming together to raise the next generation. Thanks to the generosity of the companies taking part in this initiative, baby banks across the UK will be able to support even more families through this particularly challenging time.”
Kate also recalled how she cried after returning home from a previous baby bank visit, saying: "It can get very emotional. I remember a couple of the families I met from King's Lynn and I went home and literally burst into tears, their stories were so moving. The struggles they have gone through, the bravery they have shown in extraordinary circumstances. Helping their families through extraordinary times."
For the visit, the duchess wore a white button-down summer dress by Suzannah paired with a floral-print face mask by the brand Amaia London. Sporting her usual blown-out hairstyle, Kate completed the look with delicate gold hoop earrings and pointed toe stiletto pumps by Tabitha Simmons.
Baby banks aim to support and empower families by ensuring every child has the essential items they need to thrive.
In the UK, they are powered primarily by volunteers and typically run on professional referral from services such as health visitors, midwives and social workers.
According to a 2018 survey, roughly one in 100 families in England with children under the age of five have visited a baby bank, while statistics from a new survey, conducted by Little Village – a charity that provides for free baby clothes and equipment to families in need – show that baby banks across the UK have found a substantial increase in the use of their services during the coronavirus pandemic.
Additionally, the survey found that 77 per cent of baby banks desperately need more nappies, mattresses and other products.
It also revealed that nine in 10 baby banks say the outbreak of Covid-19 is making it harder for them to support families in the way they would like to.
Cat Ross, CEO of Baby Basics, said: “We are thrilled to be part of this amazing initiative from the Duchess of Cambridge. To have the opportunity to highlight the importance of baby banks and the amazing service that Baby Basics Centres across the UK provide has never been more important than at this time when we are in the midst of a national crisis.
“So many more families in the UK will need support of a baby bank, some for the first time, and we are committed to doing all we can to support them in a way that restores dignity and values parents and their children. To have the support and donations of so many amazing brands makes our work that little bit easier and means that we can continue to ensure we can provide what is needed for every referral we receive.”
Throughout the pandemic, Kate and other members of the royal family have had to adapt to a change in their royal duties by swapping public appearances for online video calls.
However, as lockdown restrictions begin to ease, the family is starting to make more in-person visits while ensuring they adhere to strict social distancing guidelines.
Most recently, Kate was seen at the launch of the BBC’s Tiny Happy People digital platform, which offers a range of resources designed to help nurture children’s language.
At the event, the duchess admitted that her youngest child, two-year-old Louis, was struggling to understand the concept of social distancing.
Speaking with parents Kerry and Darren alongside their son Dexter, also two, in the gardens at Sandringham in Norfolk for a film shown on BBC Breakfast, the duchess said: “I was just saying, Louis doesn’t understand social distancing.
“So he goes out wanting to cuddle everything, particularly any babies younger than him.”