MP welcomes council ban on baby bank

North Lanarkshire Council has distanced itself from baby bank.
North Lanarkshire Council has distanced itself from baby bank.

Motherwell and Wishaw MP Marion Fellows has backed a decision to stop schools raising funds for Lanarkshire Baby Bank.

North Lanarkshire Council took the action following concerns about its links with the organisation.

Last month the Times & Speaker revealed councillors’ unease at council social work clients being referred to the baby bank which provides essentials such as prams and nappies to needy families.

The baby bank has won awards for its work over the last year, but there was concern that its volunteers were being given access to vulnerable families without having been vetted by Disclosure Scotland.

Founder Bernadette Murphy responded by saying she had been told formal checks are not required because volunteers spend very little time with clients.

Concern has also been expressed at Facebook postings stating the baby bank is a charity when it was turned down for charitable status.

A council spokesman said: “We were made aware of a number of concerns about Lanarkshire Baby Bank and these are being considered fully by senior council officials.

“As Lanarkshire Baby Bank has no formal relationship with the council, staff have been instructed not to signpost or refer people to the baby bank until further notice.

“In addition, head teachers have been asked that no new fundraising activity should take place for the time being.”

Mrs Fellows was photographed with Mrs Murphy in an early show of support for the baby bank.

However, she claimed this week that her attempts to help the organisation have been ignored.

Mrs Fellows said: “I have written twice to Mrs Murphy, asking her to refer constituents in need to the North Lanarkshire Referral Pathway or to my office to ensure they are supported properly. I have not received any reply.

“If North Lanarkshire Council has reasonable grounds to advise people to suspend any involvement with Lanarkshire Baby Bank then I recommend this advice be taken until further notice.”

Councillor Gary O’Rorke is secretary of the council’s Independents Alliance group which wrote to the authority’s social work chief about links with the baby bank.

He said: “The action taken by the council is appropriate in the circumstances and we welcome it.”

Mrs Murphy could not be contacted for comment.