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It takes a village: How this Gold Coast charity is giving babies an equal start in life, one cot at a time
Dominica Czaczka | June 8, 2022
Eugenie was a refugee from Africa. When she fell pregnant, her family in Australia disowned her because she was unmarried, leaving her homeless and reaching out to support services. She was placed into transitional housing two days before she gave birth to her little girl.
Through charity Baby Give Back, Eugenie was provided a pram, a car seat, a cot, clothes and a nappy bag packed with everything she needed. All of the items had been lovingly packed and prepared; Eugenie felt like they had been packed specially for her and had her in mind.
Carly Fradgley still remembers that moment. It was one of the first cases she ever helped with when she decided to launch the registered charity to help families in crisis, spurred by the belief that every baby deserves an equal start in life. At the time, Baby Give Back was a fledgling operation, based out of Fradgley’s garage.
“She was so grateful for having received all those things that she came to be a speaker at a fundraiser high tea we held for Baby Give Back last year to tell her story,” Fradgley reminisces.
“I was speaking to Eugenie’s original caseworker recently and she gave me an update on her. Eugenie has completed her degree at university and is now working as a case worker herself, to help others in their time of need.
“The full circle of her story is pretty special. To think we were involved in helping her during such a vulnerable time and now she’s working in her field helping others in the way she was helped, only three years on, is pretty incredible,” said Fradgley.
Fradgley’s tireless work and contribution to the community was recognised in June 2022, when she won the Gold Coast Local Hero award at the Gold Coast Australian of the Year Awards.
This story is one of many; what began as a passion project out of Fradgley’s home has quickly taken on a life of its own. Fradgley began Baby Give Back as a hobby, when she wanted to donate her used baby goods and quickly found there were no suitable avenues available.
“Op shops and Vinnies don’t tend to take baby items like prams, cots and car seats because there are a lot of safety issues around those items,” explains Fradgley.
“We’re not just a pass on service. We collect donations from local families and we have an army of volunteers who spend a lot of time processing those items. We make sure those car seats, highchairs, cots and other items meet Australian safety standards; we put them through a pretty rigorous safety testing process.
“Sometimes this includes a fair bit of fixing up. We have a team that sand and paint cots that have teething damage and fix wheels on prams. That’s a really core part of what we do. Caseworkers that collect items for families know they are safe.
“We also take a lot of care ensuring all of the items we are giving on to a family are like a beautiful gift; the clothing isn’t just a bag of second hand clothing. It’s only clothing that is in excellent condition free from stains and pilling. A package is put together by the volunteers, with a sticker on top saying ‘packed with love’ with the volunteer’s name.
“We’re providing the essentials a baby needs for a safe start in life. It’s important to us that we do it in a way that shows kindness, love and gives a family dignity. These families are going through a hard time and it’s important they feel like they are getting a gift,” said Fradgley.
The demand within the first 18 months of inception saw Fradgley quit her job as a lawyer and take on the helm of Baby Give Back fulltime. The charity initially moved into a warehouse in Burleigh Heads as operations quickly expanded, before moving again to larger premises in Varsity Lakes.
“We were in our first warehouse for two years before we moved into our current one. The warehouse is about twice the size of the old one and we’re really excited about what that means in terms of how many more families we can help,” she said.
Baby Give Back works tirelessly to provide vulnerable families with recycled baby essentials but Fradgley says it would be impossible to do without the support of support agencies and an army of dedicated volunteers.
“A really important part of how we operate is we don’t deal with families directly. We operate through social workers, midwives and any sort of case worker that operates through social services. They are our conduit to getting donations to those that need it most.
“Volunteers are at the heart of what we do and we couldn’t do it without them. A lot of our volunteers are really passionate about kids getting a safe start in life. When we moved into our first warehouse, we set up a kids play area and made sure we created a space where kids were welcome. When I was on maternity leave after I had my first child, I began looking for volunteer opportunities. I couldn’t find anything I could do and take my daughter with me.
“We invite volunteers to bring their children with them. We think it’s important for new mums to be able to get out and engage with the local community, but also for kids to be exposed to giving from a young age. That’s become a big part of our culture,” Fradgley said.
Looking to donate your pre-loved baby goods? Baby Give Back is open for donations on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 9am and 4pm and Tuesday from 9am to 7.30pm. For a full list of items needed and more information about donating click here.
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