Bromley Brighter Beginnings announced it is re-launching its inspirational campaign to ensure each child across the borough has a bed of their own where they live.
The entirely volunteer-led group, which works to help families in financial hardship, was forced to close applications for beds at the end of last year due to a lack of much-needed funding. But thanks to recent goodwill it is now able to re-launch the service.
Referrals co-ordinator Lucy Kennedy said: “We have just reopened referrals for professionals and straight away we received our first three requests. That, unfortunately, is the level of demand.”
Recent figures revealed a shocking 20per cent of children in Bromley – around 4,000 – live in poverty, she said.
Many of those children are forced to sleep on sofas or the floor, or share with their parents or siblings.
Madeleine Hay, who launched the campaign in 2017 and runs the project on behalf of the charity, added: “I started this campaign as I have volunteered in schools in some of the most deprived areas of Bromley. “During this time, I worked one-to-one with children who were regularly exhausted. The most common theme was that these children didn’t have a bed of their own or didn’t have a bed at all.”
Madeleine said: “It was heartbreaking, and I just thought that every child is entitled to a bed of their own – a comfortable, functional bed with clean, warm bedding.”
Giving a child their own bed increases the chance of a better night’s sleep, which can in turn lead to improved concentration and performance at school. There are also benefits to a child’s health and wellbeing, and it is known that sleeping alone reduces the risk of sexual abuse.
It also raises a child’s sense of self-esteem to have their own belongings, she said.
Fundraising volunteer Jenny Manning said: “Giving a child a bed really is so important, but it costs us nearly £300 to do so, which is a considerable sum for a small charity such as ours.”
Madeleine added: “It might sound like a lot for a bed, but for us ensuring the families we work with feel safe has to be our main priority.
“We work with a firm with whom we have developed a great relationship with over the last two years. We know who will be delivering the beds and we trust them to go into the homes of the vulnerable families we help. They don’t just deliver the beds, they also install them as families often aren’t equipped with the tools to do so themselves.
“We provide a bed with in-built storage so the child has somewhere to keep their belongings, and we also provide the mattress, duvet, pillows and bedding.”
In 2018, Bromley Brighter Beginnings, which also offers families other vital items such as buggies, cots, toys and clothes, was able to provide 32 children across the borough with their own bed, a major boost.
This year they said the aim is to significantly increase that number, as well as distributing baby packs to mothers unable to afford basic items for their newborns.
Jenny added: “We want to help as many children as we possibly can. We want to give young people a safe, secure place to dream, but we can only do that with help from local businesses and people. Without further funding, sadly, we won’t be able to run the campaign indefinitely. We are working hard to raise as much money as we can.”
Anyone wanting to donate to the Bed for Every Child campaign can go through the Bromley Brighter Beginnings justgiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/BFEC2019
Alternatively, businesses or organisations that could go the extra mile to support the charity, can visit https://www.bromleybrighterbeginnings.org.uk/