Looking back at Stripey’s year – 2023

Looking back 2023 - leading image

As the year comes to a close, we always like to look back. This reflection helps Team Stork to gear up for the ambitious plans we have ahead, and to remind everyone what a community can achieve when it works together.

2023 in numbers

We always say at Stripey Stork that behind every referral is a family in need of our help. So, while we don’t like to be driven solely by the numbers, they do help us to measure the need and evaluate our response.

In 2023:

  • We’ve helped 8,778 families with the essential baby and children’s items they need, and a total of 14,030 children. The number of families helped can be broken down by referrals made on behalf of specific families (4,120) and items collected/delivered in bulk by other baby banks and partner organisations (4,374). These figures do not include the additional families we support with our seasonal campaigns, such as at Mother’s Day and Christmas.
  • We’ve given out 3,625 clothes packs and 343 newborn packs.
  • We’ve worked with 313 referral organisations.

Team Stork turns 10

This year our charity recognised 10 years of supporting families in Surrey, and we marked the occasion on the 25th September at The Harlequin Theatre in Redhill.

The 10-year milestone was one to recognise, providing the perfect opportunity to come together as Team Stork and take a moment to reflect all that we’ve achieved. It was well attended by trustees, staff and volunteers, as well as local dignitaries, referral partners, community groups and local businesses.

During the event, we launched our 10-Year Impact Report, where you’ll find lots more powerful statistics, quotes and stories, and premiered our 10 Years of Team Stork video. If you haven’t had the chance to see them yet, we strongly urge you to take a look.

Looking back at the numbers over a decade is eye opening – for example we were able to reveal that in our first 10 years we helped 36,642 families with 48,288 children. Thank you for all your support in making this possible.

We took the opportunity to recognise 10 very special contributions to Team Stork over the years. A mixture of individuals and groups were each invited to the stage to be presented with their award.

For more details you can read our blog.

Spreading Our Wings

The need for our service is growing and currently we find ourselves responding to requests for over 200 families each week. Some families, like Mandy’s, have never needed to ask for help before but suddenly find themselves in very difficult circumstances. Mandy’s money troubles started when her husband ended his life and she found herself in an impossible situation, having to choose between buying food for her children or nappies.

There are pockets of deprivation in Surrey that are worsening, with new areas falling into this category. We are aware that our service isn’t reaching everyone, so you can imagine our relief when we received news halfway through the year that we had been successful in our National Lottery Community Fund bid, with the funds to be distributed over the next three years.

Through this programme of change we are calling ‘Spreading Our Wings’, we will expand our services so we can help even more families. Our aim is to increase our operational capacity by almost doubling the support we offer in Surrey and extending our services to areas which are within our reach but not currently supported by a baby bank.

Raven House – a new home from home

In July, we signed a lease to take on space at Raven House in Redhill. Despite running an efficient service and carefully manage stock, our main warehouse at Albert Road North in Reigate has been increasingly bursting at the seams so this will be an additional space from where we can run our large campaigns like Santa Stork and School Days.

School Days appeal

In 2022, we saw an unprecedented demand for support with school items, so this year we wanted to be ready. In May, we put a call-out to our supporters and partnering schools, seeking donations of non-branded school uniform and PE kits, school shoes and trainers, as well as brand new stationery.

The community responded to our call, and after securing a second site at Raven House where we would run the project, our volunteers set to work. Raven House was quickly transformed into a school uniform shop for referral partners to collect from. We were also proud that one of our amazing charity partners, Sal’s Shoes, agreed to set up their 10th shoe shop in our new site. They kept it filled with new school shoes and trainers, and it meant that we could include these valuable items whenever they were requested.

By the beginning of September, the campaign had already helped 2,933 children, giving out over 8,000 school items. That’s a lot of local children ready to start their first day of the school year feeling confident and like they belong because they have the right kit.

“Without the support of Stripey Stork my child would have stood out when going to school for the first time, but thanks to you he blended right in and had a great first day.” Mum

Our School Days appeal isn’t just for the run up to September but will run throughout the year because school items need replacing, season’s change and children have growth spurts.

“A parent didn’t want their child walking to school in winter without a coat. They had been saving up to buy a new one due to a recent growth spurt. Stripey Stork provided a lovely warm coat, which in turn made it possible for them to access their education.” Referral partner

It’s because of the community’s tremendous support that School Days has been such as success.

Duke of Edinburgh scheme goes from strength to strength

In 2022, we launched our Duke of Edinburgh volunteering scheme, and one of our 2023 goals has been to continue building on this success. So far:

990 volunteer hours completed
78 students from 16 schools/colleges
56 Bronze students
15 Silver students
7 Gold students

Feedback from students and parents has been amazing, and we currently have a waiting list for applicants.

“I feel like I’m making a difference by supporting those in the community that need help. I have even gotten better at organising myself and keeping my room tidy.” Duke of Edinburgh student

The scheme is a win-win for everyone concerned. Students feel motivated because they are making a real difference, and it provides a social space for them to be with their peers. Parents tell us it has given their children an appreciation of others less fortunate, with some parents even starting to support us in whatever way they can. We benefit from hands-on help from a younger generation, where they often take the lead in making up teenage clothes packs. The feedback from referral partners is that the offering we now have for the teenagers we help has improved because the Duke of Edinburgh students are often the ones who’ve packed the clothes and items – teenagers helping teenagers in a focused and meaningful way.

A case study

Staying on the subject of the valuable input we receive from our teenage volunteers, this was particularly appreciated by a family of a teenager who identifies as non-binary. They were referred to us earlier this year because they had outgrown all their clothes, and money was too tight to replace them. The family were pleasantly surprised when the unisex clothes pack arrived, and we had hit the spot!

Mum expressed her gratitude: “I was overwhelmed by the choice and styles that you were able to provide. You got it so right in terms of fluid style.”

Giving choice is a value we hold close because we’re all too aware that it’s something which can be stripped away when experiencing poverty. Having a choice becomes more important for children as they get older, and for teenagers, the clothes they wear is an important part of their identity.

Thank you for all the wonderful variety of good quality donations, because without these we wouldn’t be able to offer choice and meet the many difference requests we receive.

Baby boxes for Surrey families seeking sanctuary

In recent years, we have witnessed an increasing number of families seeking sanctuary or refuge in Surrey. Some of these families are imminently expecting a baby. When the baby is born, and a cot or Moses basket is not an option due to the lack of a permanent place to stay, we teamed up with Surrey Heartlands to provide a solution.

Surrey Heartlands funded 250 baby boxes, which we then filled with donated preloved and new items for babies, such as clothes, towels, toiletries and nappies. The baby boxes themselves provide a sturdy place to sleep, and we include bedding and a brand new mattress.

The baby boxes, a Scandinavian concept for over 80 years, adhere to British Safety Standards and have been distributed to four Surrey Maternity Units and Neonatal Units. They are also offered to referral partners working with families who may not yet have been into hospital.

Reigate and Banstead Business Awards – we’re a winner!

On 23 November, we were thrilled to be joint ‘Charity and Social Enterprise’ winners at this year’s Reigate and Banstead Business Awards. With so many amazing charities in the borough, we were honoured to be acknowledged as one of them doing great things in the local community. This one’s for Team Stork!

Stripey fundraising events

On Thursday 22 June, we celebrated all things stripey with our annual Stripes4Stripey fundraiser, raising nearly £5,000. This year, we focused on raising money to support School Days, helping us stock up on the new items needed to complement preloved donations. As always, we loved seeing our supporters wearing stripes and the pledges coming in, as well as the many creative ways individuals and local businesses find to fill that pot. The day ended with a fabulous charity quiz night at Reigate Manor, contributing £1,600 to the fund.

On Sunday 17 September, we hit Priory Park for the Run Reigate community event, a double celebration as it was the year of our 10-year anniversaries. Over £5,000 was raised by our brilliant orange runners, with some outfits being more ‘out there’ than others.

Our annual campaigns

A Gift for Mum is such an important campaign because it gives Mums the recognition they would otherwise not receive. This year, we were able to distribute 608 pampering gift bags, each with a card handwritten with words of encouragement from our volunteers. The beautiful card was designed by competition winner Ava from Merstham Park School.

“Mums were so pleased to receive the gifts and told us of the excitement from the children keeping the gift a secret until the Sunday, and that the children could barely contain themselves.” Referral partner

Arguably, we’ve saved the best for last, but that’s also because we are actively delivering it right now. Santa Stork is our Christmas campaign and this year we’ve had requests for over 6,000 gifts. Read our Santa Stork 2023 blog to hear all about how, through the community’s tremendous support, we’ve been able to make Christmas special for so many local families.

So that’s our year in a nutshell, a pretty busy one I think you’ll agree. As we welcome in the new year, we encourage you to make an actionable resolution, one that we can help you achieve:

Volunteer at our warehouse. It doesn’t have to be a big commitment, we welcome ad hoc volunteers too but we often find that once you start you won’t want to stop.
-Make a regular financial contribution or one off payment to support our work in 2024.
-Have a clear out and see what you can donate from our monthly wish list.
-Help to spread the word about what we do. Tell your friends, family, colleagues and followers (see footer for our social media links).

All that’s left to say is a big thank you for your continuous support. We couldn’t do it without you, and we wouldn’t want to – thank you Team Stork!

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