Stoke & Staffordshire

Struggling Stoke-on-Trent families 'eat donated baby food'

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Media captionHayley Jones set up the Nappy Project charity

Hard-up mothers have resorted to eating donated baby food, a charity has said.

The Nappy Project, in Stoke-on-Trent, supplies nappies, wipes and baby food to families living in poverty. It received more than 100 new referrals for families in need in January alone.

Founder Hayley Jones said there was "nothing" in the city to support families and some were in a desperate position.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been asked for comment.

"These families are eating baby food because that's the only food they're going to have in the house," said Ms Jones.

The families have not been identified.

The project was set up 18 months ago and initially the volunteers worked with about 20 families.

They now help more than 400 across the city, working from a church hall in Hanley.

Image caption Maria Mohammad said it was "very hard" to get by after her husband became too ill to work

Maria Mohammad, 24, is mother to four-month-old Hassan and said she could not afford to buy him a coat.

She said: "Everything was perfect before, but then my husband was diagnosed with TB so he wasn't able to work properly."

She said sometimes she felt depressed and financial troubles added to the situation.

Mrs Mohammad was collecting supplies alongside Chloe Elkes, who is 20, and mother to five-month-old George.

Image caption Chloe Elkes said her son, George, "gets through so many" nappies

She came to the Nappy Project after Christmas, when she was struggling to pay the rent, and had to sell her son's old clothes to help pay it.

"I was really, really nervous," she said of her first visit.

"There's just so many people in this situation where you can't afford it," she said.

"You've got to put your pride to the side and say, 'I need help', and you can get the help here."

Mrs Jones said there was "nothing for these families when they hit rock bottom".

"These women are just emotionally drained, they're broken women," she said.

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