Aberdeen children’s charity reflects on “mind-blowing” first year

Michelle Herd, AberNecessities co founder

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ONE of the founders of an Aberdeen charity has described it’s first year as “mind-blowing”

Abernecessities has grown from strength to strength since being launched by mother and daughter team, Michelle Herd and Danielle Flecher-Horn, in March 2019.

Having initially started out providing nappies for children, the service quickly branched out and now provides items including clothes, shoes and bedding for families.

Reflecting on their first year Michelle said:  “It’s been mind blowing to be honest.  We started off choosing a large room at our Dyce premises thinking it was plenty space for us.  It was fabulous this great space with no rent and no overheads we can get cracking from here.

“We now have 20 rooms full of items with everything you could need for a child, we’ve got it.

“It’s been a very, very quick year.  It’s just taken off and I think the public have really got behind it as well which has been really lovely.  I think both the public and businesses can see the real benefit and the direct benefit to families.  We are simply passing on nearly new items to families that don’t have anything.

“The thing that we like is that it’s not all about money.  You want to help families locally but you don’t have spare cash, so you can just pass on some of your children’s nearly new clothes or come in and do a bag of washing for us.  Because everything that goes out has to be freshly washed.  There’s lots of ways that people can volunteer or help and I think that’s captured the heart of the community.  If people weren’t doing that we couldn’t operate.”

In December alone, AberNecessities provided support to nearly 300 children, and last month was  given a van by Apex Tubular to help them distribute items to those in need.

Michelle said:  “There is always a shortfall and we do fundraising to help with that because sometimes you don’t have the sizes of clothes or you just don’t have items that somebody needs.  Everything has to be in really good condition.  So when it comes to cots we have to buy new mattresses and obviously that costs.

“We also give out beds.  We have children in the city and shire who are sleeping on a mattress or the floor.  We had one little one that was sleeping in a dog bed.  We work with Sainsbury’s Home Furnishings and we are able to buy beds at cost price and they deliver them free of charge for us.

“We do get donations but we always have shortfalls. Any funding that comes in goes directly to buying items.”

Families in need of support are identified to Abernecessities through social workers, midwifes, health visitors, family support workers, community nurses and other charities who submit an application on behalf of the family.

Michelle said:  There’s a lot of times you get tears when you get the background of what’s happening.  It is such a lovely feeling to know that you can do something practical to help and immediately.

“We have through the social workers and lots of various other people had lots of lovely thank you messages saying how much of a difference the service we provide has made for the family they are working with.  That’s really nice and really positive to hear things like that.  It’s lovely when you hear the stories coming back about children being excited.  We don’t get to see them first hand but we definitely get the messages.

“One of the first ones we did was twins still sleeping in a cot and they were aged 6, so we were able to get bunkbeds delivered to them.  They drew us a picture and I’ll always remember that.”

Looking ahead to the future Michelle said:  “Our plan going forward is to keep doing what we are doing.  We are a small team of local mums and we are going to stay local because that’s what we can manage.

“Yes it would be great to get more staff members in the future but for the time being just making sure we do what we are doing to the best of our ability.

“We have lots of ideas for projects in the future and different ways of helping families and the children.”

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