Wednesday, 5 August 2020

The Duchess of Cambridge Brings British Retailers Together to Support Baby Banks

The Duchess of Cambridge unveiled a fantastic and much-needed project during a visit to Baby Basics in Sheffield earlier today. The effects of the pandemic have severely affected half the calendar year of fundraising staples and events for charities who rely heavily on public support. It's been particularly challenging for Baby Banks, who depend on people dropping in donations personally, including pre-loved items, gifts they don't need, etc. The Duchess revealed she was "moved to tears" by stories of families she heard during a private visit to one of Baby Basics Norfolk branches and was determined to help with their plight. Kate has brought nineteen leading British brands on board to donate over 10,000 items to over 40 Baby Banks across the UK.

The Duchess said: "Over recent months, I have heard from families who have been supported by baby banks through the most difficult of times and I have been deeply moved by their stories. Having somewhere to turn to for support is important for all families, and baby banks work every day, up and down the country, to provide immediate, tangible and practical help for parents and carers when they are most in need. Baby banks are driven by incredible volunteers, demonstrating the power of community spirit in supporting families and coming together to raise the next generation. Thanks to the generosity of the companies taking part in this initiative, baby banks across the UK will be able to support even more families through this particularly challenging time."

Upon arrival, Kate helped unpack a recent delivery, donning a Baby Basics apron and gloves.

Hello! reports:

"As she unloaded pallets and unpacked the first deliveries at the charity’s temporary distribution centre, she told volunteers: "It can get very emotional. I remember a couple of the families I met from King's Lynn and I went home and literally burst into tears, their stories were so moving. The struggles they have gone through, the bravery they have extraordinary circumstances. Helping their families through extraordinary times."

It is the first time we've seen the Duchess wearing a face mask for a public engagement. It is in accordance with recent changes regarding guidelines.

Well-known brands donating clothing, bedding and toiletries are John Lewis, the White Company, Tesco, Sainsburys, Trotters, Matalan, DHL, Frugi, Kokoso, Kit and Kan, Marks & Spencer, Mamas and Papas, Boden, Bramley, Bloom and Blossom, My Little Coco and Childs Farm. Three Baby Banks - Little Village, Baby Basics and Scotland based AberNecessities - have been chosen to benefit from the initiative.

The Standard reports:

'Kate talked at length about what the impact of Covid would be, particularly for children.
“It’s difficult for sure but there is a lot of fear about worry about when furlough ends and what it means for families,” said Miss Ross.
“But one of the positives to come out of it is the strength of communities across the UK and people wanting to help, volunteering and wanting to provide for each other. Organisations like us what to harvest that and it keep it going as much as possible.”
“It’s been wonderful during lockdown, hasn’t it,’ said the duchess, ‘about the way everyone has been busy knitting away and actually it is those small volunteering acts that everyone can contribute to that make such a difference. That inter-generational support system has been amazing. Knowing that you can make such a big difference to another family is wonderful.”'

During conversations with families and representatives of the charity, Kate heard about the value of the "currency of kindness" from Little Village founder Sophia Parker. Kate replied: "It's about finding new ways of still providing people with the support they so desperately need."

Kate heard a particularly moving story from one family. More from the Mail:

'Ali Wartty and Sahara Mrs Hamawandy, both 47, who have lively triplets San, Shan and Laveen, aged one year. The family came to the UK from Iraq seeking asylum and were given leave to remain, but with no access to public funds.
Mr Wartty, who is self employed, a managed to buy a one-bedroom, 12th floor flat from Sheffield Council, but the couple - who were initially told they were were having twins but found out about their triplets at their 20-week scan - have struggled financially, emotionally and practically with three young children.
'Hi, all of them, of course they are triplets! ' exclaimed Kate. 'Gosh they are all doing very well and sorry to intrude on your family time.' In an emotional conversation, Mrs Hamawandy told Kate how she had struggled to cope. 'I was living on the 12th floor of a block of flats and trying to cope with the three of them,' she explained.
'It must have been so stressful,' sympathised Kate. 'Is that when you sought the help Baby Basics? Is the fact that someone talked to you and someone listened to you, is that what made the difference?''

The Duchess chatted with mother's who have been supported by the charities via Zoom.

Cat Ross, CEO of Baby Basics UK, said: "We are thrilled to be part of this amazing initiative from the Duchess of Cambridge. To have the opportunity to highlight the importance of Baby Banks and the amazing service that Baby Basics Centres across the UK provide. We have never been more important than at this time when we are in the midst of a national crisis. So many more families in the UK will need support of a Baby Bank, some for the first time, and we are committed to doing all we can to support them in a way that restores dignity and values parents and their children. To have the support and donations of so many amazing brands makes our work that little bit easier and means that we can continue to ensure we can provide what is needed for every referral we receive."

It comes as beneficiary Little Village shared the results of a survey on the dramatic fallout of the pandemic on families and Baby Banks. The charity found "nearly 9 in 10 UK baby banks say that children living in poverty will go without essentials like nappies during the crisis. Child poverty was projected to rise before the pandemic, and we believe the crisis is making things much worse. Families who were on the edge of coping before the outbreak are now struggling even more due to issues like job loss, illness and caring responsibilities".

More findings from Little Village:

The majority of baby banks surveyed believe coronavirus has created more financial
difficulties for low-income families:

• 64% say families are experiencing increased food costs.
• 64% say families are experiencing a loss of income from business closures/reduced
• 59% say families are experiencing a loss of income from self-isolation, illness or
caring responsibilities.
• 55% say families are experiencing a loss of income due to delays in benefits

The social and emotional impact of coronavirus on the families that baby banks support
is evident:

• 74% say there has been an increase in mental health issues such as anxiety.
• 68% say there has been an increase in social isolation and loneliness.
• 53% point to an increase in relationship difficulties, with 42% concerned about an
increase in domestic violence.
• 38% are concerned about a negative impact on children’s mental health and

A video from the visit.

Kensington Palace also shared photos of the Duchess from a private visit she made earlier in the summer to Baby Basics West Norfolk, based in Dersingham, where she joined the team in packing Moses baskets. During this and subsequent visits, she met with families who revealed the lifeline the charity has provided and thus the idea to get a large number of retailers on board to donate was born.

Now, Kate's stylish look featuring familiar pieces...

The Duchess wore her 1940s-inspired Suzannah Wiggle dress. Below, Kate wearing it last year during the Wimbledon championships.

The £1,850 dress is made from Italian silk crepe and is lined throughout the bodice and skirt in lightweight silk habotai. It is described as: "A re-interpretation from our own archive. The original inspiration derives from a late 1940’s Wiggle Dress, which we have re-cut to have a skimming fit over the bodice and fluid gentle soft movement throughout the skirt hemline. The silhouette is contoured around the waist with delicate pin-tucks. Pin-tucks are also placed at the front yoke detail. The dress is designed to be an elegant tea-length. The silhouette has beautiful half sleeves with buttoned cuff. Contrasting silk covered buttons are a simple closure and a beautiful delicate feature, with the buttons working from double to single breasted down the centre front."

Laura correctly noted Kate brought back her Tabitha Simmon Dela snakeskin pumps from the 2011 Canada tour.

A closer look at Kate's earrings.

And her Daniella Draper pendant.

Kate's mask is by Amaia Kids, a brand we've seen George, Charlotte and Louis wearing on numerous occasions (with thanks to Middleton Maven). The £15 mask is described as: "Double 100% cotton layer and an extra layer of a 50gr TNT filter. Beautiful and stylish Wiltshire Liberty floral outside layer." 30% of proceeds go to NHS Charities.

In the images shared from an earlier Norfolk visit, the Duchess wore the sold-out Boden Viola dress. The crinkle viscose green dress has a tie-belt (an amazing ID by Laura).

From what we can see, it appears Kate accessorised with her Lele Sadoughi velvet headband.

And her Superga Cotu sneakers. They remain available at Nordstrom.


Before signing off, the Duchess shared a precious, unseen photo of her grandmother, Valerie Middleton (pictured in the centre), to mark the 150th anniversary of the British Red Cross.

In a letter thanking 150 nominated staff and volunteers who will receive a special commemorative coin from the Royal Mint, the Duchess wrote about the service in her own family.

It's a wonderful project which will mean a huge amount to families all over the UK. Again, an example of the convening power the royals have and the ability to bring a number of businesses together in a short time to address a pressing need. Now Kate has established a close working relationship with Baby Basics in particular, I wouldn't be surprised to see further involvement in the future. It ties in nicely with her early years work and focus on supporting children. 


  1. OMG SO HAPPY TO SEE KATE WEAR A MASK. Her mask is adorable. The dress is one of my favorites -- I might have mentioned this but I have an almost identical shirt dress. Not as crazy about the green dress but her wearing a dress with sneakers is definitely a new look.

    I wonder if this pandemic will change the BRF's approach to work. Will they carry on the less ceremonial and more community-based engagements they've been doing during this time? If so I think that would be a good change. The pomp and circumstance has its place but seeing the royal family engaged in helping the community is really special.

  2. I love this look -- the dress, her hair, the mask, and those shoes. Though I'm wondering if she knew she would be moving boxes, as she might have worn a different dress and shoes. She managed with grace! But more important than how she looked is the vaulable resource Baby Basics is for the community. I love how all of the BRF seems more involved at the community level during the pandemic than ever before.

    I'm also glad they shared the pictures from her previous visit. I think that dress was probably more how she dresses in her everyday life.

    Hope from USA

    1. Haha! I assumed the pics from the engagement were more PR and less actual work. Then I saw the pics of her on a previous visit in the green dress and sneakers and was sure. But I enjoyed knowing she was making private visits.

  3. The Cambridges are really on a roll lately. That dress is beautiful without the black accessories and she looks radiant.

  4. Charlotte, I can't put my finger on it.... but I absolutely love every aspect of this post! It touched my heart so deeply & I was emotional! I guess seeing Kate in a mask & rolling her sleeves up to help this important cause (unpacking the boxes) & knowing how she mobilized the forces of so many retailers to come together to help... along with the photo of her Grandmother in The Red Cross & with Kate's touching letter..... it just reminds me of how the BRF worked for & with the country during both World Wars..... The BRF really is at the heart of the nation! She will make a wonderful Queen! xoxo

    Becca USA

    1. Ditto on all counts Becca!! cc

  5. Susan in Florida5 August 2020 at 03:35

    Getting retail donations was a great idea. Babies need so many things because they grow too fast. The photo of her Grandmother was special touch for the day.

  6. I love this!!! So poised and so thoughtful. I love hearing about this!!! An act of kindness means so much to people who have so little and those, to me, are the ones who will flourish and make this world a better place! ♥️

  7. I like the look today and prefer the dress with the white belt as opposed to the black she wore at Wimbledon. The shoes look great too and very pretty mask. I also like the green dress and Superga shoes nice dressed down look but not a fan of the headband I just don't think they suit Kate if she needed her hair of her face a nice pony tail always looks good on her.

  8. The very thought of three children the same age as these, and trying to manage to get from the 12th floor to the street level of a building is enough to give me backache, headache, and immense appreciation for the challenges of this couple with their triplets. I hope they get all the help they need, as well as all the lower income people struggling so hard with this pandemic creating further hardships for them. Giving as much as I can in my circumstances . . . Kudos to Kate for her efforts and influence.

  9. Great update Thank you Charlotte Kate highlighting another fabulous cause And great to see pics of private visits helping out. Love Kate’s look too

  10. This is such a great example of putting royal power to work. I am guessing if you are the boss of Tesco or M&S and you get a call from The Duchess of Cambridge asking to donate, there is no way you will say no. While lockdown has severely depleted most charity’s platforms for donations, Kate still has one and she is making good use of it.

    I just love the photos in the green dress (not the green dress with sneakers itself though) you can just see how much she enjoys putting together the stuff. And the fact that they seem to be working inside a local church makes it even more special, because that is the way most local charities work. No brand new purpose-build buildings, but rather a few tables pulled together in a school hall, church or something like that.

    Lastly, I love the crisp white dress she wore, but it did make me laugh. Off all the clothes she owns a white silk dress with high heels is probably the most unsuited to unpacking a delivery of goods.

    1. Valerie in Arizona5 August 2020 at 16:14

      RachelZA (Becca too!) I absolutely agree that we are seeing the real power behind Kate's dressing and image. She can call on these retailers and not only use her title but also say "And when William and I visit your store, you know what it means so perhaps you might like to donate....." Or when we cough at another new dress, we might think that she is also building up some influence with that retailer to say "And now, if you might possibly...."

  11. I really like the dress, but these shoes don't match to whole outfit, in my opinion.

  12. The mask IS so cute! I'm glad she repeated this dress, it looks so light and breezy and comfy. In the photo of her at Baby Basics earlier in the summer, it kind of looks like her 'headband' is actually a black facemask in a *slightly* larger photo I've seen. It just doesn't seem as high or chunky as the velvet one...and pairing a summer dress and sneakers with a heavy black velvet headband seems a bit...questionable. But c'est la vie if it is haha

  13. Catherine looks lovely in both outfits and as always, her smile is her best accessory - even a mask can’t hide her joy! I’m quite jealous of how fabulous her hair looks as well as her knack for looking so “clean and tidy” (to quote Princess Anne) even when unloading pallets! My only quibble is that the snakeskin heels with the white dress felt a bit formal to me for unloading boxes - I preferred the Superga.

    1. Susan in Florida5 August 2020 at 16:28

      I was thinking the white dress may have been worn in tribute to the British Red Cross , her great-grand, and grandmother .

  14. I will say, I like the dress much better with the all-white accessories. I would question the practicality of the shoes but I think we all know that her unpacking was more of a photo set up for a few parcels. When she actually does some work along, she is often dressed way more casual with flat shoes (like when she handed out christmas trees last year).
    I am amazed how all of the BRF were able to stay busy by changing their ways of interaction. Their way of conducting their work was more based on personal visits, especially compared to other royals but they adapted quickly. I am especially happy to see Kate and Wiliam appearing to be busier. Maybe the digital support will help them balancing their work and family time better, because they were not living up to the standard of workdays the older generation has set. I get wanting to spend time with your children, especially before they are in school and therefore not at home anyway. But it is hard to justify their numbers, if you look at the reality of family life in the UK and add the massive privilege the BRF has. I think the pro-Charles PR also includes starting to promote Wiliam as Duke of Cornwall and prepares everyone for this transition. And now, with the Queen and the DoE in isolation, they need to be more visible to the people. Charles will always be tainted for some, due to the whole Diana/Camilla drama. Wiliam and Kate will be the core that ensures the BRF will endure.

    1. Valerie in Arizona5 August 2020 at 16:21

      Anonymous, I personally had thought that the whole Charles/Camilla thing was completely in the past but then I watched a very heated exchange on TrueroyaltyTV where (okay, don't cringe) Dan Wootton of The Sun said his readership definitely still holds against Camilla because of Diana and Tessa Dunlop of the BBC said he was full of hot air. It will be interesting to see, when Charles does become king how people do react.

  15. I have to say the way she accessorized the white dress recently is so nice and summery. The black bow belt last year just hit an off note fir me but I love the dress with those shoes and white belt

  16. Another amazing project from the Duchess. She looks beautiful. So king and caring. Amazing young woman.

  17. Women from the organization were all dressed up nicely, one of them even tweeted she loved having a reason to leave her sweatpants for once so maybe Kate showed up on a dress and heels because she knew the staff would dress up.

    Anyway, after reading about this fantastic initiative and how Kate has personally asked for donations, after reading on twitter how happy all the organizations that received help are and how proud to be part of this brands are I can’t believe many people here just decide to comment on her look.

  18. Love the work and love her outfit. She looked really great in the white dress. Love the shoe choice and white belt.

  19. Caroline in Montana5 August 2020 at 16:00

    I love this look way better than the first time. So much better with the white belt and i for one like the shoes with the dress. Not a big fan of any of the tennis bow's that she (must?) wear everytime at wimbledon, they just distract from the look for me. Did she do something to her hair, it does not seem as red and seems like highlights? maybe im seeing things and just want the red gone:) the mask is really pretty and was glad to see her wearing it in doors.

    The green dress is ok, not sure about the headband and i do think its a headband, the placement is just to perfect not to be. not sure about the green dress with the sneakers, although i did have to buy a pair of superga's in raspberry and they are heaven on the feet, even walked over a mile after i first put them on and not a moment of discomfort!! might have to get in more colors! i only have 2 repli-kates and they are both shoes:) the other is those black sorel's Trivoli boots in black, that are also super comfortable/warm and stylish!

    What a great initiative, she really has a knack for pulling things together, imagine how good it must feel to get all these corps to donate and help. charity and civic minded folks make the world go around better. fantastic that this will help so many more families in these tough times. It does indeed take a village!!

  20. One further comment, I think her hair looks incredible in these photos.

    1. Agree, her hair looks fantastic!! Having a moment of 'hair envy':P

    2. Zora from Prague6 August 2020 at 16:36

      Duchess Kate at her best!!!😃

  21. well the duchess kate and finest

  22. Always think she looks like an angel in white or ivory. I've never seen a brunette carry it off as well as she does. Just gorgeous.

  23. Very excite to say that I ordered a couple of the masks from the Amaia website, including the one that Kate wears. Incredibly pretty. Until now I have not seen a fabric mask that I like. I'm looking forward to my order!
    Royal 👑 Watcher


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