Gianna Baby Bank Open Day

On 1st May Catholic Care’s Gianna Baby Bank held its first Open Day, marking a year at its new premises in Bradford.

It was an opportunity to showcase our work to existing and potential partner organisations, and to say thank you for the support the Gianna project receives from many different sources.

Some twenty people were welcomed by Siobhan Vink, the project’s Administrative Assistant, who gave an excellent video presentation explaining how mothers refer themselves or are referred to the baby bank, and the various types of support that Catholic Care can provide.

New Welcome To The World packs were launched at the Open Day. These will be distributed with other goods and equipment that new mums receive, containing information on postpartum mental health, nutrition, and services provided by Catholic Care and other charities in the area. Representatives from other charities included Spark Social Justice, Better Start Bradford, and Bradford Doulas.

The Open Day was an opportunity to express Catholic Care’s thanks to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) for a grant we received for the Gianna project from the Conference’s Day for Life Fund. Every June, Catholic parishes across England and Wales are asked to take a second collection to mark the Day for Life, which raises awareness about the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition. The Fund gives financial assistance to organisations that promote the dignity of human life, and last year Catholic Care received a grant that allowed us to buy a bulk order of moses baskets, mattresses, and stands.

The Bishops’ Conference took the opportunity of our Open Day to open grant applications for the Day for Life Fund, and Conference staff who had travelled up from London read the following message from Bishop John Sherrington (pictured) who is the Conference’s Lead Bishop for Life Issues:

I am pleased to announce that this year’s Day for Life Fund applications are now open. I encourage any organisation whose work strives to uphold the Church’s commitment to protecting the dignity of human life to apply. I also encourage anyone who can to donate to the Day for Life Fund to ensure that this important work continues.

One previous recipient of funding is the Gianna Baby Bank project, run by Catholic Care in the Diocese of Leeds, which provides support to anyone within the diocese during a pregnancy for the first year of the baby’s life. Recently, the project launched a new initiative, supplying Welcome To The World packages to families in need, which include Moses baskets purchased through the Day for Life Fund. This support is open to anyone within the diocese, regardless of age, religion, race, or marital status, and is a vital lifeline for expectant mothers.

We recently celebrated the feast of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, the patron saint of physicians, mothers, and unborn children. Her life is a testimony of sacrificial love for the most vulnerable, that each member of the Church is called to follow. I congratulate Catholic Care’s Gianna project. Their work reflects the example set by their patron to provide support and assistance to women and girls during and beyond pregnancy. Thanks to the generous contributions to the Day for Life Fund, the Catholic Church in England and Wales is able to fund work like the Gianna Baby Bank. As we approach this year’s Day for Life on 16th June, let us pray with St. Gianna Beretta Molla that we can receive the graces to better recognise the beauty and gift of life in the most vulnerable. Using her words: ‘Lord, keep your grace in my heart. Live in me so that your grace be mine.’

Visitors were given a guided tour of the baby bank’s facilities. The Open Day was a great success, and will hopefully become an annual event.