A NEW charity has been set up to provide essential items for babies and families who are in need across the Reading and Wokingham area.

Josimah Baby Bank launched in August last year. Since then, the charity has helped almost 30 families, and the numbers are growing.

Founder Buki Adedoyin-Benson spotted the need to open a baby bank after giving birth to her third son in October 2020.

“So many people — myself included — wanted to give clothes, toys and equipment away, but existing charities were unable to accept donations due to covid and storage issues,” she explained.

“I knew from my work as a nursery nurse at Royal Berkshire Hospital that the need for support was still there.”

When Buki’s sister, Wuraola Adeyinka, gave birth to a baby girl in August last year and found that she had the same difficulties passing items on, the two women decided to do something about it.

“There are so many charities, but there are always babies being born and we wanted to do our bit to help,” Ms Adedoyin-Benson said.

“Wuraola, who is now Josimah’s administrator, researched the rules around setting up as a charity.

“We decided to operate a bit like a food bank, by putting together packs of essential items for mothers and babies.

“Then we began to send letters to organisations which could refer people to us who need help.”

The two women already had a good collection of items to pass on and began to collect donations, which are currently stored in Ms Adedoyin-Benson’s garage in Shinfield.

Amongst the potential referral partners contacted were health visitors, children’s centres and charities that help in an emergency situation, such as Berkshire Women’s Aid.

Josimah has supported women and babies for a number of reasons, including poverty, low income, domestic violence, loss of possessions due to fire and premature birth. Some might be one-off cases with a specific need, such as a double buggy. Others may need support later on as their baby’s needs change.

Ms Adedoyin-Benson works permanent night shifts on both Buscot Ward and the Transitional Care Unit at the RBH’s maternity unit, which she continues to do alongside being the chief executive of Josmiah Baby Bank.

She said that she feels a strong sense of vocation for both her job and her charity, which overlap.

“One of the things I noticed on the wards was that the baby box scheme doesn’t seem to be running any more, and by talking with other staff and patients I know that many mothers do not have a safe place for their baby to sleep when they go home,” she said.

“Safe sleep is important, so our standard bundles containing essentials for newborns are packed in Moses baskets, which we buy new mattresses for.

“We also have bundles for new mothers which include maternity and breastfeeding clothes, sanitary towels, body wash and treats like chocolate.”

Community support for the charity has been “fantastic”, with Shinfield Baptist Church’s food bank passing on donated baby items, which it cannot use.

Parents of the school Ms Adedoyin-Benson’s older children attend have also got involved. The charity even had to suspend donations before Christmas as the small group of volunteers who have been sorting them could not keep up.

“We are still learning how to manage donations and meet people’s needs,” Ms Adedoyin-Benson added.

“And even though we started to help meet needs during the pandemic, we don’t see this ending when the pandemic is over. It is bigger than us.”

The name Josimah is rooted in Hebrew, from Josiah, and means God supports and heals.

It also reflects the names of Ms Adedoyin-Benson’s three sons with her husband Adedayo: Joshua, Joseph and Jeremiah.

Josimah do not currently accept monetary donations. It does accept gift vouchers donated towards specific items, such as storage boxes and items which must be given away as new. These include feeding bottles and Moses basket mattresses. The charity is reopening for donations of baby items this week.

For more information, visit: josimahbabybank.org and follow the charity on social media at: facebook.com/Josimahbabybank

Ref: Wokingham Today