Trio start family aid bank in Forres as demand for essentials increases

A couple who faced their own cost-of-living crisis during the coronavirus pandemic, are paying forward the kindness shown to them in their time of need by setting up their own aid agency.

And such is their impact, they’ve now been asked to take over an existing aid service.

Stephanie Christie and her partner Robert Locking have set up the Happy Little Preloved Project to collect and distribute essential clothes and accessories for families.

Stephanie explains: “In 2020 I was signed off work due to ongoing medical issues, and during this time we had to rely on agencies supporting our family due to finances becoming tight. Due to the cost-of-living crisis, we noticed how this affects everyday life with rising fuel and food prices.

“We have been thinking of ways to give back and this was where Happy Little Preloved started. I posted on some Facebook groups to see if there would be any interest or need and it’s taken off.

She said that in just four weeks they have helped about 100 families and thinks the number will grow as their project expands.

They will stock clothing and essentials for ages 0-16, adults’ clothing, shoes, baby essentials and depending on donations, homeware products.

They will work on a referral basis whether self-referral or through other agencies, and will be open to all walks of like. Stephanie said: “it doesn’t matter if you work full time or not, people from all backgrounds fall into financial hardship.”

Taking over Moray Baby Bank

Within two weeks of starting, they were approached by the already-established Moray Baby Bank in Urquhart, asking if they’d like to take it over.

Stephanie continued: “We approached Amanda Hubbard to become our third trustee due to her knowledge and background with the local businesses and community. We hope to merge the two into one charity and want to start community projects in and around Forres.

“We are looking into potential funding options to achieve these goals. The community and, in particular, young people, need something and we hope to hear what they have to say to point us towards new community projects.

Happy Little Preloved will operate from the racing stables at the old Pedigreed Cars site, and they’ve been busy refurbishing it.

“We have rented it out from Glenburgie Property. Landlords Eileen and Liam are great and have helped us out so much in the last month trying to help get us up and running. Nothing is ever a bother to them, and they are always a phone call or email away.

“The building itself has not been in use for such a long time. We had to reline some of the walls, paint inside and out, add a few internal walls etc,” she said.

“We have been relying solely on donations to fund the project thus far. MKM Building Supplies and a local joiner have been great and have provided building materials and essentials for us to do the work needed. Moray Wastebusters have also donated a lot to us in order to get us set up. We could not do what we are doing if it was not for the Moray community spreading the word.

Happy Little Preloved will officially launch on 22 July, and are planning an open day (provisional). The organisation continues to work behind the scenes doing referrals and requests from the public through its Facebook page (Happy Little Preloved Project), emails and phone calls.

Main picture shows, left to right, Stephanie Christie, Robert Locking and Amanda Hubbard.

Share this

Leave a comment