A baby bank which provides nappies, formula milk, clothes and other essentials for babies and small children has opened a new base which is ready to help needy and vulnerable families living in Barnet, Hertfordshire, and nearby London boroughs. Sebby’s Corner, a charity which was established in Borehamwood in 2021, has acquired premises at the Queen’s Road commercial estate in Queen’s Road, High Barnet, and is expecting to help 30 to 40 families a week. On being referred for help, they can either book an appointment to visit the baby bank in person to select what they need, or items can be packaged up and forwarded to them.
Volunteer Alison Nagli – seen above – spends a day a week packing up essentials like sleep suits, socks, jumpers, and cardigans in response to requests from health visitors, teachers, doctors, and other care professionals.
Sebby’s Corner was founded by Bianca Sakol at the height of the Covid pandemic when she was looking for somewhere to donate clothes which had been outgrown by her son Theo (6) and daughter Darcy (4). All the charity shops were shut because of lockdown so she donated to the clothes to a foodbank near her home in Borehamwood. “I then began to realise how much hardship there is out there for families with babies and small children. We started to give out nappies and formula milk. “One day we had to turn away ten families who wanted milk. Each pack costs £10.50. So, I did an appeal on social media, and I raised £16,000 in forty-eight hours.” Bianca was so inspired that she and her friends set about forming a charity to establish a baby bank. Sebby’s Corner – named after her brother who died as a child – is now one of the 250 to 300 that have joined the newly-formed Baby Bank Alliance. After working initially in partnership with her local foodbank, Bianca got together with friends and started their own baby bank in two rooms in a Borehamwood dance studio. “We soon outgrew those premises and here we are now, two years later, with our own hub and staff, backed by some amazing volunteers.” Darcy’s first dressing gown -- see above -- is just one of the many donated items available on several rails of clothing. Some is used – or pre-loved as the baby banks prefer to say – and much is new end-of-line clothing donated by shops such as M&S. “What we are really short of just now are new and pre-loved items of clothing for boys and girls aged from five up to eight or nine. “Anyone wanting to make donations can book an appointment on our website – www.sebbyscorner.co.uk – and we would love to receive them.” Sebby’s Corner which is backed financially with funding from companies and organisations such as Sky Studios Borehamwood, Screwfix, and the Pears Foundation, now has a staff of four.
Marguerite Bunt, hub and referrals manager (right), welcoming visitors at the open day, meets families in the reception area to discuss what essentials they are short of for their children. They can then walk round and select what they need. Often there is other help and advice that Sebby’s Corner can provide as families can have multiple needs because they are living in poverty, temporary accommodation, domestic refuges, or homes for asylum seekers. Sebby’s Corner is attracting donations – not just of clothes, but also toiletries, school stationery, and other items – from a wide range of groups and organisations.
Katie Stone (left), head of safeguarding of children at Feltham Prison and Young Offenders Institution prions – seen here with Jocelyn Shein, people and partnerships manager -- organised an appeal which has paid for school uniforms and lunch boxes. Jocelyn stressed the importance of their ability to pack up items which could be forwarded to families in need. Many of those wanting help have no transport, so cannot visit the hub. Anything from 20 to 25 families a week are managing to get to High Barnet and can enjoy the shopping experience of walking round and choosing the items they want.
Councillor Nagus Narenthira, Mayor of Barnet, attended the open morning of the charity’s new hub. (From left to right, councillor Sara Conway, who chairs Barnet’s safer communities and partnership board and who is a trustee; Councillor Narenthira; Bianca Sakol, who was awarded the MBE last year; and Joshua Morris, who is chair of the trustees, with his son Aaron.) Mr Morris said he joined Bianca in establishing the charity because he had young children himself and knew how difficult life could be for some families. “Seeing others struggle, and seeing how much our efforts are appreciated, we all want to give something back.”