Social Justice

Being pregnant during cost of living crisis made me depressed. Baby banks helped take the shame away

'It makes me extremely angry that we live in the sixth richest country in the world and families are in this position'

Mum and baby reading a book

Mum praises London’s biggest baby bank network as it launches summer drive (William Fortunato/Pexels)

A South London mum has said visiting baby banks helped take the “shame” away after she felt “depressed” due to the skyrocketing cost of living crisis continuing to hit the UK.

CeCe, 44, gave birth to baby Eden in 2023, telling Big Issue that while she was pregnant, she had been overwhelmed by the upcoming costs associated with having a child.

“I was really feeling quite depressed, because I was four months [pregnant] at the time, and I was thinking, well, my time is ticking down, and it feels like the cost of living crisis is biting me, because every ten seconds I’m putting money on the gas, money on the electricity. My partner is a full-time worker, but he’s also a university student,” she explained.

She praised London baby bank network Little Village, which helped provide her with essentials including clothes, toys and baby equipment when her daughter was born. 

Now one year old, Eden has continued to receive clothes and other items from the baby bank, which helped support more than 3,000 newborns in 2023 alone. 

The London-based baby bank network launched its “great big baby shower” event on Tuesday (4 June) in the run-up to September’s baby boom, with the charity estimating it will need to reach more than 800 newborns over summer by helping families in need of essentials. 

The charity, which supported 8,529 children in total in 2023, claims when its referral form is open, a family is referred to the baby bank on average every 45 seconds. 

CeCe told Big Issue that she was first told about the Little Village baby bank during a midwife appointment, and was given a referral that day. 

“I literally broke down at the midwife appointment,” she said. “She was so lovely to me… she referred me, and I really didn’t believe it until I got the phone call.”

CeCe added: “When the items arrived, I definitely realised this is coming from a charity that loves children. Because everything they sent was beautiful. I was so impressed. And then that takes the shame away.”

She explained that she’s a person that “doesn’t like to ask for help”, and that she appreciated Little Village offering “essential items” like clothes, bedsheets, books, and bottle sterilisers rather than her having to list everything she might need.  

“That was what made me feel so cared for,” she said. “The anxiety just faded. It faded, because I just don’t want to have to ask.”

She added that the baby bank has continued to offer her items as Eden has grown, leading her to donate several items back to Little Village after she no longer needed them. 

“What was nice was that all the things that she had grown out of, I knew that I could now donate them back, because I’ve looked after them so well… It felt really good to do that, and that’s what keeps them [the charity] going,” CeCe explained. 

CeCe explained that being given much-needed items for newborns can be the most effective way to help families struggling with the cost of living. She explained that parents can often face barriers when receiving other forms of aid, like universal credit, which means you still have to pay up-front for expensive baby items. 

“There should be a set amount of essentials that the government says, ‘This is what the baby needs to enter into the world,’” she told Big Issue. “And the government should be supporting places like Little Village, absolutely. It should just be a staple. The government absolutely has to help fund it.

“They need to look after children, not from primary school but from birth.”

Debra Kroll, a midwife from University College London Hospitals, explained that baby banks can provide a “real lifeline for expectant mothers struggling with the ever-increasing cost of living, ensuring that they have the necessary resources to welcome their little ones with warmth and dignity.”

Sophie Livingstone, chief executive of Little Village, added: “It makes me extremely angry that we live in the sixth richest country in the world and families are in this position. It doesn’t need to be that way. We need some anger in society and some recognition that we won’t stand for this.”

Big Issue is demanding an end to poverty this general election. Will you sign our open letter to party leaders?

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'Shameful stuff': Labour suspends seven rebel MPs who voted to end two-child benefit cap
keir starmer
Two-child benefit cap

'Shameful stuff': Labour suspends seven rebel MPs who voted to end two-child benefit cap

DWP should prioritise supporting benefit claimants over sanctions, most people say
jobcentre plus/ dwp
Department for Work and Pensions

DWP should prioritise supporting benefit claimants over sanctions, most people say

Campaigners welcome closure of Bibby Stockholm asylum barge – but Labour faces calls to go further
Bibby Stockholm
Bibby Stockholm

Campaigners welcome closure of Bibby Stockholm asylum barge – but Labour faces calls to go further

PIP changes: Labour government urged to drop 'dangerous' disability benefit reforms
dwp offices
Department for Work and Pensions

PIP changes: Labour government urged to drop 'dangerous' disability benefit reforms

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know