Families and Babies

Providing vital support for thousands of UK families

When Elaine Edwards from Bolton found there was very little support available for new mums struggling to breastfeed, she decided to do something about it. Her charity, Families and Babies, has now helped more than 300,000 families across the UK.

Named Charity Award winner at the eBay for Business Awards 2018 and impressing judges so much she went on to be named grand prize winner, Elaine’s eBay shop, Families and Babies (FAB), offers everything from designer clothes, to handbags, shoes and furniture. 

The extra income the charity is generating online means it can help even more people, and Elaine now has ambitious plans for the future, and hopes to inspire other charities to follow in her footsteps.

Here is her story.

How did you end up launching your own eBay shop?

Breastfeeding is a key influence on a child’s health and their later life chances. It is also a proven way to reduce health inequalities. But for many mothers it can be a challenge. 

I had problems feeding my own daughter and found there was very little support available, so decided to do something about it. I launched my charity, Families and Babies (FAB), with the aim of supporting breastfeeding mothers and their families across the UK.

FAB funds training and volunteering opportunities for mothers, so they can become peer supporters and help increase breastfeeding rates.

To date we have supported more than 300,000 UK families, with everything from home visits to support groups and helplines.
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We have always relied on funding grants, which is why it was so important the charity found a way to become self-sustaining - in case our funding should ever dry up. 

To try and raise money, we started by opening a couple of high street charity shops in Bolton, which were great but limited our reach to local residents in specific communities. Through these shops, we were also being inundated with donations and were struggling to find enough space in the shops to sell all the items we had! 

That’s when we decided to go for it with our own eBay charity shop.
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I did a lot of research into what other charities were doing and generating on eBay and could see there was a big opportunity there.

We had lots of items to list and zero start-up costs, so while our bricks and mortar shops could capture passing trade, online we had the potential to reach the world. 

When did you sell your first item on eBay?

At first, we just listed a few items to see if it was going to work and also if it would be easy to do - as we had never tried anything like this before. We listed things like bundles of clothes, toys and handbags.

Within 6 months we had raised enough additional funds through our eBay sales to facilitate two community support groups. The money also helped to pay for room rental costs, promotional items, resources and refreshments. 

We quickly saw the potential and it’s fair to say it has succeeded all our expectations.
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Within 12months we had made almost £16k, which was absolutely amazing and we realised that this way we could sustain the charity for years to come, meaning we would no longer be reliant on funding grants alone. 

Our two charity shops in Bolton continue to raise funds and we’re very lucky to have so many fantastic donations coming in, alongside lots of repeat customers on eBay. Myself and my husband now spend our evenings listing the items and I really enjoy it. There’s something quite therapeutic about it! I get especially excited watching the auctions and the last-minute bids that often come in.

We make sure we share out the items we’re given, so there are always nice things in both our shops and online. Many are new with tags, or designer items, which always go down very well.

What has your eBay shop meant for the charity?

The additional funds raised through eBay have enabled us to expand the support the charity offers and to increase our training and volunteering opportunities. 

As well as breastfeeding support, it has paid for staff to have specific training around mental health, which is an area we’d like to do more in. Alongside this, I hope to get a counsellor on board this year, with the funds we have raised.

The attendance of mums, dads and other family members at the support groups we hold has increased - all of whom have said how wonderful the experience has been for them and how much it is valued.

Many have since gone on to become volunteers with us themselves. 
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We have been able to raise greater awareness for the issues and what we do, helping us reach more people and leading to lots more donations. 

What does the future hold?

The charity has grown significantly in the last year and going forward, eBay will play a massive part in opening up even more of the world for us to sell to. 

We plan to increase our online sales even further, which will allow the charity to expand into more areas and support even more families. I would love to double what we’ve achieved so far - and more! - so we can continue with the services we offer and do even more to help even more families. 

We would also like to work in partnership with other charities and share our eBay success story with them, to hopefully encourage and inspire them to try this for themselves.

Why did you enter the eBay for Business Awards?

When I came across the awards I really believed we could win, with the story we’ve got. When I heard we were a finalist I almost dropped on the floor, and winning overall was fantastic! 

Using the prize money we won, I’ve been able to take on a volunteer as a full time employee and having an anchor store has been brilliant.
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My husband is also really looking forward to going to Las Vegas, to meet the eBay team and get lots more ideas and inspiration for how to make the eBay shop even more successful. 

Elaine’s top tips


Know you’re not alone

There are lots of people out there who can help you get where you want to go, including lots of online resources and tutorial videos. Make use of all the free resources you can.


Play around until you hit on the best way forward

When you first start an online shop there is lots to learn and you will make mistakes. Learn from these mistakes and try different things until you hit on the best formula for you. The good thing about sites like eBay is that they are super easy to use and navigate, even if you’re not that confident on computers. 

Want to be an eBay for Business award winner just like Elaine? You could win an all-expenses-paid trip to the USA, as well as up to £5,000 in prize money, plus much more. You’ll find loads more information about the awards and how to enter, here.

Meet Elaine – Providing breastfeeding support to thousands of UK families thanks to her eBay charity shop #ebayawardsuk via @eBayUK_News
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