Community support

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000


Little Village operates like a foodbank, but for clothes, toys and equipment for babies and children up to the age of 5. We provide good quality items donated by local families, to local families who need this kit but cannot afford to buy it. We promote sustainable living, making it easy for local families to help one another in a respectful, non-patronising way. Our aim is to create small, warm communities of families supporting one another. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is especially true in London where we often feel alone as parents.

We offer a weekly drop-in service, a delivery service and provide a referrals-based service for our partners such as health visitors, Children’s Centres, midwives and the local foodbanks.

Families can either drop in with a referral voucher to select items themselves, or our volunteers put together bags of kit on their behalf. We want our bags to feel like gifts, rather than hand-outs, and we only pass on items that are good enough quality that we’d give them to a friend. In addition to distributing material items, our drop in sessions, and associated playgroup, provide often much needed social interaction for the families we help.

Little Village was constituted as an unincorporated charity in October 2015, had a formal launch on 30th January 2015, and started taking referrals officially in late March 2016. We run one site, covering Wandsworth, and are in the process of scaling our model with a view to growing a London-wide network of Little Villages in the future.

The Money Advice Service estimates that even a low income family spends around £1,000 a year on baby clothes and equipment. Some wards across Wandsworth have up to a third of children growing up in poverty. When families have to choose between heating and eating, the cost of kitting out children can be overwhelming. We aim to relieve poverty and improve living standards for families who are struggling.

Between 27th March 2016 and 5th October 2016, Little Village helped over 150 families. The feedback we have had is consistently very positive, with regular 10 out of 10 ratings.

Little Village is entirely volunteer run. We have over 100 volunteers, approximately half of whom regularly commit to at least 3 hours per month. We also have close to 800 followers on Facebook and 265 on Twitter. Our volunteer network primarily capitalises on the underused talents of mums on maternity leave or juggling school-age kids, tapping into a world of frustrated female energy. We offer flexible volunteering, locally based, in order that local mums can fit us into their families’ daily routines. In addition to helping the families referred to us, we are boosting the confidence and self-worth of a significant number of local, community minded people, allowing them to forge new friendships, develop new skills, or apply existing ones in a new, rewarding way.

Whilst the vast majority of the equipment we give out to our referred families is from local donations, there are certain items we cannot provide on a second hand basis, as we obviously want to make certain that our donations are as safe as possible. The most expensive of these items is mattresses for cots. Recent research suggests that there is a link between Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS or cot death) and second hand mattresses. Between 27th March 2016 and 5th October 2016, we gave out 46 cots to families whose children would otherwise not have their own safe place to sleep. Average spend per mattress was £25. We also have to purchase spare parts for cots which have been donated with parts missing or broken, and we buy new sheets for the cots we distribute. A budget of £2,600 to September 2017, would ensure that good cots are given a new lease of life. Receiving this amount from the Aviva Community Fund would allow us to help some of the most vulnerable children in our local community to sleep safe.

Project Video

Little Village

Moment of Pride

Such a simple idea can make such a huge difference to those we help. Little Village does not only provide material items, such as a safe place for a child to sleep. It also delivers a sense of community. Recipients are often overwhelmed by the kindness of those donating items and time.

Location: London