A NORTH EAST community hub which supports people in crisis is now turning its attention to helping new mums.
The Newcastle Dream Centre at Elim Church, Heaton Road, which started operating its food bank in 2012 – along with other initiatives – has recently launched a scheme to support new mothers in crisis.
And the project, 1st Babeeze, which has only been running since the beginning of April, is already helping mothers across the city.
Through working with local midwives at the Molineux Centre, Byker, new and expectant first time mothers who are in need of help are referred by the midwives to the 1st Babeeze scheme.
The women are then provided with a baby changing bag which includes essentials such as brand new bottles, bibs and nappy cream, as well as knitted cardigans and blankets made by the centre’s knitting group.
New mums will also receive a self-care bag for themselves which includes toiletries and chocolates.
“We gave our first bag away three weeks ago to a first time mum who was 38 weeks pregnant and had only been in the country six weeks,” said Julia Lawton, community projects manager at the Dream Centre.
“Just seeing how grateful she was, is what makes all of our hard work worth it.”
After the initial 1st Babeeze bag, women are then invited to come back when their baby is between six and eight weeks to receive a 2nd Steps bag with more necessities for them and their child.
The centre is also hoping to follow on from this with a weaning bag at six months.
Julia continued: “As 1st Babeeze is a new project, we are seeing how it goes within the Byker and Heaton area initially, with plans to expand it across the city in the coming months.
“The project is mainly aimed at first time mums but if a mum who already has children is in need, we will of course help her too.
“We will also be directing all mums who visit to our Clothes Store, where they can get items for themselves and their babies, including clothes, Moses baskets and potties.”
The free Clothes Store is held at the Dream Centre every Wednesday from 10.30am-12.15pm during food bank hours and has already given away thousands of items of clothing.
Their Coats For Kids scheme works with referrals from local primary schools to gift children in need coats. And over the past five years since its launch, the scheme has given out over 600 coats.
Once a month from Easter to October, the centre also runs the Adopt A Block project where volunteers pick litter and offer to do small jobs for the local community such as painting, gardening, cleaning or visiting the lonely.
The centre also sends volunteers out twice a year, around Christmas and Easter, to give gifts to each home on the estate behind the Dream Centre.
Most of the items at the Dream Centre have been provided by local groups, businesses in Newcastle and other members of the community.
For further information on the Newcastle Dream Centre’s many projects, food bank opening hours and how – and what – to donate, go to www.elimnewcastle.org.uk/dreamcentre