Concerns raised over running of baby bank

Lanarkshire Baby Bank founder Bernadette Murphy, right, with Motherwell & Wishaw MP Marion Fellows.
Lanarkshire Baby Bank founder Bernadette Murphy, right, with Motherwell & Wishaw MP Marion Fellows.

Councillors have raised concerns at how the award-winning Lanarkshire Baby Bank is being run.

They’ve asked social work chiefs to clarify what links, if any, North Lanarkshire Council has with the organisation.

It follows claims that the baby bank is not doing proper checks on its volunteer workers before they become involved with needy and vulnerable families.

The baby bank was set up just over a year ago and provides needy mums with essentials such as prams, cots and nappies.

It says it has helped more than 1,500 families so far, but founder Bernadette Murphy, who’s from Cleland, has warned the organisation’s future is in jeopardy as it’s had to move out of premises in Coatbridge.

This week the Times spoke to a former volunteer who expressed concern that he was never asked to undergo Disclosure Scotland vetting despite the job involving contact with vulnerable women, such as domestic abuse victims.

Those concerns were also raised with the newly-formed Independents Alliance group of councillors on North Lanarkshire Council.

Motherwell councillor Gary O’Rorke said the group had responded to public unease about the baby bank by writing to council social work bosses. They want to know if any social work clients have been referred to the baby bank and if this has happened have checks been made on the volunteers.

Councillor O’Rorke said: “Concerns have been raised by members of the public and it’s our duty to raise questions on their behalf.

“We must make sure that whoever is dealing with vulnerable people has undergone proper disclosure.”

The baby bank depends on donations from the public and another matter of concern is that, on its Facebook page, the organisation has called itself a charity when this is not the case.

It has not attained charitable status and the Times understands the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has warned the baby bank about misleading the public in this way.

A council spokesman said: “We don’t have a formal partnership arrangement with the organisation, nor are they part of the formal pathway we currently use.”

Mrs Murphy was not available for comment.