If you have not heard of St Kilda Mums before, it is an incredible charity that looks after women and children who are going through a hard time, rehoming preloved nursery goods to support Victorian families in need whilst at the same time saving the earth's precious resources.
St Kilda Mums is dependent on the generosity of volunteers who work during whatever free time they have, all of them passionate about making the world a safer place to live for all children. We speak with Jessica about St Kilda Mums and how it helps to empower mothers so that they can be the best that they can be.
Tell us about how St Kilda Mums came about?
I started St Kilda Mums in 2009 after organising a working bee at my local maternal child health centre where we sorted donated baby gear for new mums in need. The nurses were so grateful as we made a big difference - they had no time to sort or check these things. I realised pretty quickly this was a service that was needed, so I called an “inaugural committee meeting” with the working bee members and other friends. We knew right away that we wanted to help families by strengthening the services available to them, with quality pre-loved baby goods.
As an organisation that does not receive any government support, tell us what goes into keeping a charity of this kind running?
We are entirely dependent on the support of the community - from individuals supporting our fundraising appeals to businesses who send their employees in for community service, to philanthropy via grants and support of particular programs. We also do a lot of community fundraising in workplaces and schools. And we are powered by volunteers - they are really at the heart of everything we do.
There seems to be such an overwhelming response to your cause from the community, why do you think St Kilda Mums is so close to people’s hearts?
When you think about how vulnerable a newborn baby is, and how much support is needed for a nursing mum - particularly in those early days, you are compelled to help. Last year 98% of the 59,463 items we rehomed to babies and children were donated to us. We know we live in a world where it is expensive to buy all the items a family needs for their baby or child. Many of us have cupboards full of nursery equipment, children’s clothing, books and toys, in great condition, ready for a clean and a new home. We also have a huge consumption and waste problem, which is destroying our beautiful planet. So does it make sense that any baby or child should go without the essential material items they need for a safe start?
Some of the mothers that you help have faced many challenges in life, tell us about how St Kilda Mums empowers these women?
A pram allows an isolated mum to get out with her baby and kids. To connect with her local community, attend a mother's group and playgroup, get to doctor's appointments and make trips to the supermarket. The alternative - staying at home - compounds the feelings of isolation. We have also supported women back into the workforce with meaningful volunteering opportunities, regaining the skills and confidence they need to win the job of their dreams. This makes me very proud.
What is the best part about being involved with St Kilda Mums?
The amazing people I work alongside every day. We have all manner of people volunteering with us. Mums and Dads who volunteer around their work and caring responsibilities, people with disabilities, people who have retired, university students on placement, teams from large companies who have a commitment to community service. Everyone is welcome and everyone makes a unique contribution to supporting families in need.
What does International Women's Day mean to you?
This day is a chance to reflect upon the advances made, and to honour the women who came before us, particularly the suffragettes who literally placed their lives on the line to fight for freedom and equality. It's also a day to rally and say our work is not yet done. We fight for equality but what we really need is equity. We need to hold each other up, and to build extra support for those who need it. We need to fully fund women's refuges and ensure that women and children can live lives free from violence and abuse.
What is your favourite ELK piece from AW20?
I love all of the vibrant colours in the Juna Dress.
There are so many ways you can get involved with this fantastic charity. For more information visit stkildamums.org.