Autistic students have launched a baby and toddler bank with free milk, food, nappies, clothes and toys to help hard-pressed families in County Durham.

The students from Thornbeck College, run by the North East Autism Society, held the first baby bank in Newton Aycliffe this week – and it was a huge hit with local people.

“The local community has been so kind to us, and we wanted to give something back, especially when a lot of people are struggling,” says Fay Strong, Thornbeck College principal.

“Some people were in tears because it meant so much to them. One mum said the learners had made her day and that she felt less alone because of their support.”

The students, who are all autistic, neurodivergent or have additional needs, prepared the donations and distributed posters advertising the baby bank at the Pioneering Care Centre in Newton Aycliffe.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

On the day, they handed out the free baby milk, food, blankets, nappies, wipes, clothes, toys and books, talked to the families and enjoyed some cuddles with the babies. “It helped them understand they have a place in the community and can make a difference,” Fay says.

“It also provides them with meaningful work experience and helps promote social interaction, communication and community inclusion.”

Donations came from the charity’s staff as well as from local Aldi and Tesco supermarkets which kindly gave the college vouchers to spend on babycare items.

The baby bank will run every other Tuesday at 10-11.30am at the Pioneering Care Centre on Carer’s Way. The next event is on Tuesday June 6.

If anyone would like to donate items to the baby bank, they can contact Thornbeck at or on 01325 328 088.