ITV London's Helen Keenan reports on the pressures the Baby Bank in Windsor is facing as the Princess of Wales makes a royal visit to the centre
Kate, Princess of Wales, surprised volunteers when she visited a baby bank on her “doorstep” in Windsor today (24 April) as the charity warned of increasing pressure due to the cost of living crisis.
She visited the Baby Bank, a local charity which has supported over 21,000 families across the region, and praised the “brilliant” work of volunteers as she helped them to pack donations.
The princess, who said she has a “passion” for under-fives care, has visited several baby banks across the country in recent years.
But she said it was “great” to visit one “on her doorstep” as she is “new to the area”.
William and Kate moved to nearby Windsor Castle in September last year when they became Prince and Princess of Wales following the Queen’s death.
She was greeted at the door by co-chief executives Rebecca Mistry and Lauren Hall, who took her for a tour of their office which was packed with donations.
Pausing at a mound of approximately 200 Buzz Lightyear toys, the princess said: “Gosh, there is a huge amount of stuff here.”
Upstairs, where volunteers were sorting through donations, she spoke with Jane Daly, 75, and Christine Gill.
Discussing her youngest son Louis’ fifth birthday on Sunday, the princess said: “He turned five yesterday but you still think he is this size.
“It only feels like yesterday, they do grow so quickly.”
Speaking afterwards, Ms Gill said: “She was saying she would like to come here with her children and if she could I bet she would.
“She is so normal that I bet she wishes she could return without all those (people) around her.”
The charity, set up in 2015 to help families in financial hardship, has seen a “year-on-year” increase in referrals.
In the first three months of the year, they helped 300 more families compared to the same period last year, its founder Mrs Mistry said.
As well as providing essential items like nappies, school uniforms, and buggies for cash-strapped parents, the charity works with midwives and health workers to support mothers before and after giving birth.
Sitting down with a group of them, the princess praised their “vital” work, saying: “It is so often behind the scenes.”
She added: "It is particularly tough times not only for midwifery and volunteering and organisations like this but for health visitors who are under huge pressure to deliver to families in growing need.
“You are there living and breathing it. You see these families and you see their challenges.
“It was great to see what was on our doorstep being new to the area. I’m sure there is a lot more amazing work going on.
“It’s just raising the profile of what’s going on in the community, so a huge well done.”
She suggested that she might visit again in the future, adding: “I can actually be useful next time.”
Speaking afterwards, Ms Hall said she could “really see her passion” for under-fives care and that her visit would make “such a difference” to baby banks across the country.
She said: “It’s that cycle of knowing someone’s there so that if you have an item you can pass it on and we can regift, and also families knowing that if they are struggling they can come to us.”
Mrs Mistry added that, if the princess did decide to bring her three children, Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, she would love to “get them involved”.
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