First Days was started in 2013 in response to needs in the local community in Berkshire. Quite simply: there were people with stuff they didn't need and people who desperately needed it. The charity grew very quickly and now, nearly eight years later, we have staff and volunteers and have helped over 10,000 children, and distributed over 250 tonnes of donated goods.
Our aim for the charity is very clear: we want to close our doors because no one needs our service anymore.
However, with 4.5 million children living in poverty in the UK we actually need to do the opposite - we need to boldly transform our service in order to launch a project that has the capacity and capability to help children across the UK.
What do we do?
We support families who are experiencing financial hardship. We offer emotional, practical and specialist support via our Family Support Team. We also help families access the support they need from other organisations, and we distribute essential items via our Baby Bank, School Uniform Centre and Safe Place to Sleep project. The immediate support we give to families via the distribution of essential items is the first building block in longer term support to help families in other areas of their lives. By helping parents in their moment of crisis, like 'my son has lost his school shoes and I can't afford to replace them!', we alleviate the immediate crisis and then can work with families to see if there is more support out there for them, so they never need to make that phone call again!
Why do we do it?
We believe that every child deserves the same start in life and that parents might need some help accessing the support, tools and skills they need to give their children the best life possible.
Evidence from the Child Poverty Action Group shows that when children, in both their early years and at school, feel that they are equal to their peers they achieve more, do better in exams and can get better jobs.
But, mostly, we believe that there are times in most parent's lives when they need some extra support in one way or another, and we want to be there to provide that support so children in our community are safe at home, confident at school and have fun!
How do we do it?
Our Family Support team are dedicated to supporting families. Families can contact us directly for support with accessing our projects and services, emotional and practical support and signposting and advocacy to other support services.
What makes us First Days?
We have led the way in the development of services to support children living in financial difficulty and continue with bravery and innovation at the centre of all that we do.
Our service is simple to navigate and understand: we support families in their time of need and we pass things on #FromOneFamilyToAnother, no fuss.
Everything we do is firmly rooted in love and kindness. We believe in the mutual value of doing good and we celebrate it.
We believe that it is no one individual's fault that they are living below the poverty line, and no one individual politician's fault either. Without policy change based on empathy, understanding and a fundamental belief in the good in people, poverty will not be eradicated.