A VITAL lifeline for parents is now up and running in Braintree.

The new baby bank, at the Carousel Family Hub in Chapel Hill, has been launched to support new parents by handing out free essentials such as clothing, wipes and nappies.

On the first and third Thursday of every month families are invited to go and get any supplies they need, from domestic items to baby clothes.

The scheme is run by volunteers and relies on donations.

It also tries to be eco-friendly, using bags made out of recycled materials such as bedsheets and curtains.

Founder and trustee Gervase Vernon said: “It is difficult enough to bring up a child even if you have everything you need, but also to help ensure our poor world has not been burnt up to a crisp by the time these babies grow up.”

Community engagement officer Karen March says the baby bank has been such a hit that surrounding districts are already asking for something similar.

She said: “People from outside the district are asking for something like this in their area and we hope we can get it to them.

“We have had lovely comments on Facebook from people already.

“It’s better than we could have ever imagined.”

The team of volunteers are already running out of space to put all the donations.

Mr Vernon said: “At the moment we want to emphasise to the community that the bank is open to anyone in need.

“You don’t have to be referred by anyone, you can just come in and get what you want. Even when the bank isn’t open, families in urgent need can come in and health visitors will be able to give them a bag filled with supplies like wipes and nappies.

She added: “We want to thank all our volunteers, all the donors who have given us everything we have and the parents who come and teach us where their needs lie.

Richard Comerford, of Virgin Care, which runs Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service, said the baby bank meant parents could get support from each other and health workers.

“It’s the most financially challenging time and to be able to have support from places like this helps enormously,” he said.