When Noni Farrelly started Growbaby in 2003, it was a distant dream that they would reach so many people in their community. Now Growbaby projects serve thousands of families each year – both in their own church in Kingston and across the UK and Ireland.
Growbaby provides good quality, new and second-hand clothes and equipment for children from 0 to 5 years. It is a service that is totally free of charge to anyone who needs it. Growbaby began in Kingston over 15 years go, and in 2018 gave £97,000 worth of volunteer hours to the community and supported over 1,500 families throughout the year. Their hard work and incredible service was recently recognised when Growbaby Kingston won a London Faith & Belief Community Award for ‘Outstanding Local Project’ in 2019.
We chatted to Noni, to find out what they’re celebrating at the moment!
“At Growbaby Kingston, we have a wonderful and growing team of volunteers, many of whom were our clients originally and whose children are now older so they have returned to help us. It’s amazing to watch them come full circle and take care of new mums.
We also estimate that we are having over 500 contacts a year with teenage parents. Our weekly group for them is going from strength to strength – between 15 and 20 teenage parents attend each week. We are really excited to see how this all develops further!
Our challenge at the moment is that we are seeing more and more ladies who were victims of trafficking. It’s really hard to know how to support them as they are often “underground” and refuse to engage with services as they fear being sent back to their countries.”
God is doing some incredible things in Kingston, but it’s also really encouraging to hear about the impact of Growbaby across the rest of the UK! Here are a few stories to share with you!
“One mum who came to us for support had a little 18-month-old boy who had issues with his heart. She explained to us that he was due to have surgery and let us pray for him. At his next appointment, the little boy’s heart scans came back completely clear and he hasn’t needed the surgery!”
“We’ve recently started Growbaby in Bradford, and run it out of our family home, but due to the volume of clothes and equipment and the rising demand of the service, our home has been taken over! It has become unsustainable so we have been looking at alternative storage options. For a few years now, I have been walking past an empty betting shop on the school run and felt God speak to me that it was ours. Just before Easter, I plucked up the courage to ask the estate agent if we could use the building for free – expecting them to say no, and that I’m crazy! However, that wasn’t the case. We were absolutely bowled over and incredibly thankful that they offered us the empty shop for £1 a day! It will allow amazing access, plenty of storage and a safe place for families to come.”
“We met a new mum who came to us from the hospital – and was dashing back to the hospital to feed her premature baby. Due to the early arrival, she was totally unprepared and had no clothes or equipment for her little baby. We were able to give her a box of premature baby clothes, tiny nappies, wipes and all the newborn essentials. As she was living at the hospital we also gave her a bag of food so she could look after herself too. She was overwhelmed, tearful and so grateful. What a privilege for us to be able to support her and her new baby at a time when the birth had not gone the way she expected!”