GROUPS set up to help struggling families with vital items for new-born babies and children have been “inundated” with requests.

Baby banks across Essex, including Baby Stuff in Braintree, have seen an increase in the number of parents needing support since the start of the pandemic.

Parents can use baby banks for the essential equipment required to raise and take care of young children.

Everything from nappies and shampoo to prams and pushchairs can be given out to those with a referral from a nursery, school, doctor, or community centre.

Andy Warpole, head of programmes at the Essex Community Foundation, said: “We have seen a big increase in applications from baby banks in the past year.

“They tell us they have been inundated by requests for help, particularly during the pandemic.

“The rise in demand is due to a number of reasons including reduced salaries while parents were, and continue to be, furloughed, job losses, cuts to Universal Credit payments and a rise in the number of people fleeing domestic abuse.”

Baby Stuff Braintree has been feeling the pinch as a result of the Covid-19 crisis but has just been given a boost following a donation from the Essex Community Foundation.

Trustee Susan Pedder said: “The need for clothes is often seen as below that of food, but children benefit from self-esteem, so as well as keeping them warm, a new coat adds so much to their lives.

“There are so many people needing support right now that we are having to buy clothing, rather than rely solely on donations.

“The £1,000 awarded to us by the Essex Community Foundation has enabled us to make a big difference to many more children.”