24 May 2019

Roundabout baby clothes, goods help families make a new start

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Hannah Andrevski

Hannah Andrevski of Roundabout received the Profound Influencer award from Volunteering and Contact ACT. Photo: George Tsotsos.

When Hannah Andrevski was finishing up maternity leave with her second child, she started wondering what to do with all the baby clothes and gear she had accumulated and if she could help someone else out by donating them.

Just under two years later, Roundabout, the charity she founded to support vulnerable families with high-quality baby goods has helped 498 children from 300 families and diverted 4.5 tonnes of waste from landfill. And they’ve just collected the Profound Influencer gong at the 2019 Canberra Region Volunteering Awards, presented by Volunteering and Contact ACT.

“I’m a mum of two young kids and I wanted to help another family who was actually in need. I’d seen heaps of other people on social media also asking where they could donate second-hand baby things and there didn’t seem to be a solution,” Hannah says.

She discovered a few similar charities in other capital cities who were generous with their support and Roundabout was born. It helps out families who often have complex and multiple issues going on their lives.

The charity doesn’t connect directly with families, but rather partners with more than 40 local care providers including Karinya House, the Red Cross and local hospitals. Anyone who makes direct contact with Roundabout is put in direct contact with a social service.

When a service has a client in need, they put a request form in with Roundabout and volunteers then create a tailored parcel of clothes, linen, toys and other essential goods. The charity began by focusing on all the needs for a baby’s first year but has since expanded to providing clothes for older babies and children too and some back-to-school items.

Roundabout also ensures that anything with mandatory standards is safe, unlike items sourced from Gumtree or social media. They’ve worked with Kidsafe and SIDS and Kids to create a comprehensive checklist so all pieces of equipment are fully assembled and checked for parts before being passed on.

“We have high standards because it is about protecting the dignity of those families, and what we’re passing on is a gift for the people receiving it. Everything passed on is a special thing. We carefully put together those packages with a lot of love,” Hannah says.

“The feedback is amazing. Multiple times we’ve had a request where a mum is unable to leave hospital because she doesn’t have safe equipment for her baby. We’ve also helped migrants and refugee families. The Red Cross says those families who can have almost nothing are blown away by the support in a new city and country.”

Goods come from around the community and Hannah says they must be high quality, also an important gesture for the dignity of the families receiving those gifts. Volunteers from all walks of life sort donations after they’ve been left at the Roundabout storage space at the Sports Club in Kaleen during volunteer sessions.

Hannah says that Roundabout could really use some more help, both in sorting and packaging the goods but also checking them for safety. They’ve also outgrown their storage space and are looking for a warehouse with a minimum of 300 sqm, ideally bigger, that’s easily accessible for loading bulky items and safe for volunteer workers.

Hannah says she was “very surprised” to receive an award for the charity this week. “I knew I’d been nominated but not even that I’d been shortlisted. It’s just wonderful to think we can help alleviate the financial burden on families in need”.

Other winners at the awards were:

  • Nikki Bensch, Share the Dignity ACT Team (Volunteer of the Year)
  • Paul Kowodik, St Vincent De Paul Society Compeer Program (Thought and Leadership Award)
  • Sharan Slater, ACT Policing Volunteers in Policing Program (Canberra’s Choice Award)
  • Judy Smith, Southern Tablelands Ecosystem Park Volunteers (Volunteer Team of the Year)
  • Peter Bray, Senior of the Year

Further details about what goods can be donated and when the depot is open are available on the Roundabout website.

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