Mums on a mission to help
Almost 120 newly arrived asylum seeker and refugee families across Melbourne have received crucial material goods for their children in the past year, thanks to a remarkable volunteer community group.
St Kilda Mums, a not-for-profit organisation, re-homes new and pre-loved baby goods for families in need; providing new arrivals with not only the necessary items to look after their family, but also the resources to feel at home in their new lives.
Working with case managers from refugee and migrant settlement agency AMES Australia, St Kilda Mums has provided 1366 items, including cots, prams, change tables, nappies, clothing, toys, books and milk formula worth more than $140,000 to newly arrived vulnerable families.
The organisation’s work with refugee and asylum seekers is just part of their overall work.
In the past financial year, more than 20,000 babies and children supported with almost 66,000 items worth $7.5 million and donated through 420 agencies.
The group was started in February 2009 by a group of mothers after opportunity shops refused to accept donations of prams, cots and other nursery gear.
Based at a warehouse in Clayton, in Melbourne’s east, St Kilda Mums is now a slick operation that bears more resemblance to a sophisticated logistics operation than a local charity.
There are goods packaged according to use and customer profile, there are stock codes on every item in store and there are carefully arranged dispatch schedules
A purpose built app keeps track of what material goes where and to whom while collecting data on customers and delivery agents.
“We are trying to make the world that we want for our children by reusing and recycling,” said St Kilda Mum’s Program Manager Helen Montgomery.
“We are recycling goods that still have life in them and we wouldn’t re-gift anything that we wouldn’t give our own children,” she said.
Helen says that at the heart of the organisation are its volunteers.
“Our volunteers are the heart and soul of St Kilda Mums and we couldn’t do what we do without them,” she said.
As part of a feedback survey, one volunteer said: “I volunteered at St Kilda Mums because the cause really resonated with me. I believe kids deserve to be kids, living their best lives, without the stresses of adult life intruding on that. St Kilda Mums post regularly on social media about needing more volunteers, and so once I was in a position to give them some of my time, I jumped on it!”
“My most memorable moments are always when the team members who are filling orders come to me needing to put together urgent and specific orders to be collected that day for a family. It really brings to life for me the impact the organisation has and why we do what we do,” the volunteer said.
Another volunteer said: “The staff and other volunteers are great to work with but I think knowing you are making a valuable contribution to help improve the lives of others, is the best.”
Helen says St Kilda Mums receives dozens of message from the people they support.
One mum said: “My journey being pregnant and being a single mother to a 6-year-old, has been a tough and really rough one. I felt helpless, miserable, lost, and not sure who I could reach out to for support and help. Until I spoke to my midwife who recommended Healthy Mums, Healthy Babies to me! They got in touch with St Kilda Mums who gave me hope again that I’m not walking this journey alone – they restored my faith in humanity but not just helping me morally but also physically and financially”.
To donate, volunteer or find out more about St Kilda Mums: share the joy by recycling your preloved baby things – St Kilda Mums