“’I suddenly knew my baby and I weren’t all alone in the world.’ When Sarah Robinson (23) left the hospital after the birth of her baby daughter Elizabeth, she wasn’t able to feel the excitement most new mothers enjoy upon bringing their precious new arrival home.
Instead of returning to a nursery full of new clothes and toys, Sarah, a waitress, made her way back to the room in a local hostel where she had been staying for 3 months. Unable to live with family after a disagreement with her mother and struggling with mounting debts, Sarah describes the situation she faced as a ‘living nightmare.’ The hostel could only accommodate her and her daughter, while her husband, Chris (25) had to stay elsewhere with family and friends.
‘Having Elizabeth was absolutely wonderful, but I desperately wanted us to live together as a proper family. We wanted to give her the basic things every baby should have, like a new baby grow or a soft toy, but simply couldn’t afford it. I faced the choice of buying food or being able to afford nappies. I wished more than anything I could have bought just a few new things for my little girl. It was horrendous. Being in the hostel was better than being completely homeless, but when I arrived there with Elizabeth for the first time I just burst into tears. It was so bare and unwelcoming. There was nothing to show that a new baby was staying there now too. It made me feel so sad and isolated.’
However, Sarah says that all changed when just a few days later she received a delivery from Stripey Stork. Stripey Stork is a UK baby bank located in Reigate, Surrey, and has helped 12,000 families since 2013. Started by local mom Nicola Dawes, the idea was simple— local families helping other local families with purpose and kindness, and reusing valuable items that children outgrow so quickly.
‘Debbie, the professional who had been helping me, contacted Stripey Stork and told them about my situation. Their response was more than I could ever have dreamt of. Elizabeth was just a week old when Debbie arrived at the hostel with what I can only describe as an unbelievable gift. I was completely overwhelmed by how much was given to me and I felt incredibly lucky.’
Sarah received large items such as a cot bed, a shelving unit, a bouncy chair, a play gym, and a bath set, along with bedding and clothing ranging in age from newborn to a year old.
‘I truly couldn’t believe my eyes. It was like Christmas had come a few weeks late. Not only had I been given everything I could possibly need, but it was also all in perfect condition. Some of the clothes didn’t look like they had been worn. Suddenly my room looked like a baby lived there and it took a massive amount of pressure off me. I can’t quite put into words how grateful I am to Stripey Stork. They gave me the chance to enjoy being a mom instead of constantly worrying I was letting my little girl down.’
Since then, Sarah has really turned her life around. By managing to save as much of their money as possible, she and Chris have been able to pay back their debts and move into rented accommodation together. She is working again and now wants to return to Stripey Stork the amazing gifts they gave her.
‘I’m now so happy to be in the position where I can give Stripey Stork back the lovely clothes and equipment they gave me. Then these things can find a new home with another mom who desperately needs a helping hand. I’m sure there are thousands of women out there in the same position I was in, who find themselves in terrible circumstances and just can’t see a way out. It’s a dreadful, lonely place to be. When the parcel from Stripey Stork arrived on that cold, bleak day back in January and that there are amazing people out there who cared enough to help me when I needed it most. I will never forget what they did for me.’
Stripey Stork accepts donations of new and pre-loved items for babies and children (up to age 16) such as cots, buggies, clothing, toys, and books from the local community. We work on a referral basis by passing on these quality items that have been safety checked by our volunteers through a network of support partners free of charge.
The demand for our service has grown at an exponential rate, and during the pandemic, we have seen a substantial increase in this demand as more families have been thrown into destitution. We are here to help families find their feet again, families just like Sarah’s. There are lots of ways to support our work – through donating items or money, volunteering, or fundraising. See our website for more details.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stripey Stork. Follow their journey on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and their website. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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