Meet Cathy Pettingale
In 2018, our founder, Cathy Pettingale, was watching a television interview of a young mother. The young mother talked about being forced to decide whether she should spend her remaining money on food so her children could eat, or heating so her children could keep warm. Overwhelmed with compassion, Cathy was compelled to do something to help families experiencing similar circumstances within her community.
Cathy started exploring how she could support families and she began picturing a specialised ‘children’s bank’ that would give out the basic essentials for young children. After some research, Cathy realised that what she was envisioning was a baby bank. A place where families could come and receive baby items, clothing, nappies and toiletries in order that their child did not have to go without. A service that was needed, yet missing, from Chester.
As Cathy began to set up the charity, she reflected on a significant experience she had on a trip in Athens where she was helping refugees. Cathy recalled that as she stood looking out on to a crowd of refugees, she suddenly felt totally overwhelmed. Firstly, by not knowing how to help them and secondly, by knowing that their physical needs were just the tip of the iceberg. Cathy came to realise that the community around us was not so different.
Cathy and her newly formed team set about establishing the foundations of KidsBank. In doing so, Cathy and the team created a simple but sustainable model where families could donate items that would be gifted to families in need. As the vision for the charity widened, Cathy knew that it would need to become so much more than a baby bank that simply equipped family with their basic essentials. It became clear that the charity would, one day, help to break down the barriers of anxiety, loneliness, and failure that imprison so many families within the community.
In 2019, KidsBank was launched, and the community quickly began to donate items for the new baby bank. Within two months, the KidsBank journey began as the team packed up their first hamper for a local family in crisis who needed clothes and toiletries for their 4-year-old little boy. This was all made possible because of the compassion that compelled so many to act, and a belief that communities can make a difference when they come together.