Sunday Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

Labour MP Frank Field, for­mer Labour wel­fare re­form min­is­ter, said it was a “des­per­ate si­t­u­a­tion”.

“All too many fam­i­lies are be­ing crip­pled fi­nan­cially by the cost of ba­sic items for their ba­bies – on top of their rent, util­i­ties, and food,” he said. “Above all else, this shows us how the face of poverty is chang­ing. It is hard-up fam­i­lies who are pay­ing the price for the eco­nomic up­heaval and aus­ter­ity of the past decade.”

The growth of baby banks comes as more and more health­care pro­fes­sion­als such as mid­wives, health vis­i­tors and so­cial work­ers re­fer hard-up mums to them. Sophia Parker, 40, is the founder of Lit­tle Vil­lage baby bank which has out­lets at Cam­den and Wandsworth in Lon­don. She es­ti­mates one in five of the peo­ple they help are work­ing or have a part­ner in work – but still can­not make ends meet. Sophia, for­merly a strat­egy direc­tor at the NSPCC, said: “Even as some­one who un­der­stands what’s go­ing on in re­la­tion to poverty in this coun­try, I’ve been shocked by the level of need we’ve un­cov­ered.

“Last week we sup­ported a mum who was sleep­ing on the floor of her neigh­bour’s house while her baby slept on the sofa, and a mum who has been ra­tioning nap­pies be­cause she couldn’t af­ford the next packet.” In a par­tic­u­larly shock­ing in­ci­dent ear­lier this year, mum-of-three Sophia tells how she helped pro­vide ba­sic care equip­ment to a home­less mum who had given birth on the streets.

“That was a real low point,” she says. “Peo­ple al­ways think of poverty as this thing that hap­pens some­where else, but ac­tu­ally it’s right here on our doorstep.

“There are kids with­out a safe place to sleep. Kids who haven’t a warm coat or are in shoes two sizes too small. Kids whose lives are blighted by poverty. It’s a hid­den cri­sis and we are a stick­ing plas­ter.” Lit­tle Vil­lage has handed out more than £1mil­lion worth of kit to 2,000 des­per­ate fam­i­lies since they launched in 2016, in­clud­ing 30,000 nap­pies, 753

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