"The lockdown came very unexpectedly and hit families hard"

Growbaby is a community project located at The Hub in Kingston Vineyard Church. The organisation would normally be running a huge number of outreach support projects from the space, including a breastfeeding drop-in, a young parent’s ‘skills for life’ group and a free second-hand baby clothes and equipment service.  

However, lockdown, and subsequently a grant from The London Community Foundation (LCF), has opened up new ways for the organisation to work. We spoke to Noni, Senior Pastor and project leader at Growbaby, about how the project has been helping those in the community.  

“The lockdown came very unexpectedly and hit families hard,” said Noni. “Covid-19 has brought us into contact with a significant number of families who we would not normally have contact with. Suddenly we had those who had lost jobs, were on zero hours contracts, had no recourse to public funds or ran a small business and overnight had no income and no way of supporting themselves.  

We are seeing families put basic essentials on their credit cards and we are concerned this is storing up problems for the future.”  

Even though the project wasn’t able to work as it had been, Noni saw an opportunity to help during the pandemic by working in a different way.  

“Although we were unable to open our drop-in centre properly for families to come back to the various groups we run, we have been able to act as a key distribution point across Kingston for families that require baby essentials. We developed our relationship with the Council who now passes all requests for these items to us, this means we are supporting not only our regular families but many more who might not normally need us.”  

Noni says that speed and community support were two key factors at the centre of the project’s success.  

“The grant has allowed us to move extremely fast and change everything about the way we worked. We believe our rapid response and our ability to purchase essential items such as nappies, baby food and baby formula has made a huge difference to families and because of our drivers we were able to take items out to families immediately.  

We made 618 deliveries to families in total, including 675 large packs of nappies, 256 tins of formula and 4,596 jars of food.”  

During challenging times decisions often need to be made fast. LCF has been working alongside other funders on the London Community Response portal, coordinated by London funders. By processing applications through one easy access point, groups are spending less time applying for funding and grant-giving organisations are making funding decisions quickly.  

This streamlined process has enabled Growbaby to get on with supporting its community. They received a grant through the London Community Response portal from funds from the National Emergencies Trust. The speed and flexibility with which Growbaby has delivered its project has certainly been appreciated by those it has helped.  

“We have received many messages and emails from families”, said Noni. “Including from one local parent, who said, ‘I can't thank you enough. You have been so kind and such a huge help to me.’”