I don’t know if you’ve come across Paul Reddish? He’s CEO of Volunteering Matters and has spent the past week cycling from Edinburgh to London, on a thank you tour of charities and volunteer groups who really make a difference.
I caught up with him when he stopped off in Stirchley to say a big thank you to BAB (Birmingham Aid for Babies).
BAB is a wonderful little community enterprise which helps parents and children up to age five with everything from nappies to push chairs. It’s the brainchild of Sparkhill councillor Nicky Brennan and David Barker.
It started with the first lockdown, in March 2020, and experienced its own birth pains with Nicky’s front room gradually taken over by an everexpanding assortment of baby items. They’d noticed just how many mums were struggling for the basics as their new baby arrived.
For the time being, BAB has a smart new home at a shop in the bustling entrepreneurial sector of Stirchley, near popular cooperatives, the Bike Foundry and Loaf.
I describe them as a little endeavour and it’s true they are entirely dependent on Nicky and David and a growing band of volunteers and totally reliant on public donations and small grants but they’re not small in reach. They offer help to people right across the city and even receive enquiries from areas you might not expect, like Sutton Coldfield.
It’s hard to believe that there are babies born in this country, whose parents can’t afford nappies, baby clothes, a crib and sometimes even food.
The reality is that there are about 15,500 live births per year in Birmingham and, as of March last year, almost 84,000 children in our city living below the poverty line despite one or both parents being in work.
Many of these problems require long-term government intervention but in the meantime we should be grateful to Nicky and David and their lovely band of volunteers for all that they do and to people like Paul Reddish who understand the importance of volunteers and why we can never say thank you often enough.