How noisy planes at Heathrow Airport led to mothers receiving nappies during the pandemic

Jet engines blaring as aircraft fly over homes have long been the bane of people’s lives that live underneath a flight path. For some, the pandemic made life more bearable with a dip in air travel.

However, noisy planes that breach government limits can land airlines with a fine from airports. For some heading to and from Heathrow, that fine can be quite a hefty one with British Airways being forced to cough up £20,000 back in 2019.

Yet, in an ironic twist, those breaches can actually bring a benefit to the community through a grant scheme where Heathrow is obligated to give money generated from noise breaches to charities.

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The Heathrow Community Fund awards grants to charities in areas including, Windsor, MaidenheadSlough and Hounslow to projects that have a positive impact on the lives of the people who live in the area.

One of those to benefit was a baby bank in Windsor. ‘The Baby Bank’ was founded by two mothers from the borough, “with the view that if people needed food banks they’d need other support as well like nappies and clothes”.

When the bank was first set up in 2015 the charity provided newborn baby kits for expectant mothers and has expanded to provide everything from school uniforms to bicycle seats.

Discussing the Covid emergency grant fund, co-CEO and co-founder Rebecca Mistry said: “The amount of people we were able to support from that was fantastic.

“We’ve had funding from a two-year project and we received emerging Covid funding from them as well.”

She described the charity as being “very lucky” as they were only able to receive this grant due to their location.

Rebecca explained that the fund covers volunteer calls “which enables our volunteers to be able to drive to places like daycares and drop off things such as buggies”.

“We started doing that and we would provide the basics from school uniforms to single beds.

“The first lot of funding helped us with storage to protect the clothes and shelving to put the boxes on.

“The emergency funding helped to provide more basics such as nappies, wipes, formula, and buggies.”

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Rebecca explained that it was important to have this fund as normally people would come to them and drop off supplies, however, “people weren’t going out and buying things in the initial first few months of the pandemic”.

The charity will continue to need more fundraising to be able to keep up with demand, although there are always helpers trying to fundraise, whether that’s in the form of cycling or running.

With the Universal Credit cuts and the NI tax hike, Rebecca believes the number of people needing to use the service will continue to rise.

Just before children went back to school in September, the charity announced they’d be supporting 170 families requesting uniforms, citing the fact that uniform costs are increasing and “more and more families struggling to make ends meet”.

‘Nobody chooses to use a baby bank’

Rebecca explained that there is still a stigma around people using food banks and baby banks and that this should never be the case, especially as the latter functions as a way for people to pass down old clothes to those in need, which people would do with their own families anyway.

“People will sometimes bring dirty clothes or clothes that should be thrown away,” according to Rebecca who also explained that everyone should be entitled to practical and clean clothes, an expectation that shouldn’t be dismissed just because somebody is using a baby bank.

“Nobody chooses to use a baby bank”, she said.

In June, Housing Solutions acknowledged the work that The Baby Bank has done in the local community and named Rebecca “a local hero”.

The charity is constantly working to provide for those in need and says that they are “a small but mighty team of volunteers who work tirelessly to support local families in the hope that our gifts make them smile through a tough time”.

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