Featured Charity of the Month

Kidzeco 

Article appeared in Konect Directory, Bathgate edition, August 2013

At first glance, Kidzeco in Bathgate looks like a nice shop for quality second-hand baby goods and children's wear, with a large range of items attractively displayed and a safe play area for your toddler while you browse. And it is of course all of these things - it's a great place to get quality items at a fraction of the cost of buying new. But it is much more than just a shop.

Kidzeco is a resource centre, mainly for parents with young children but also for socially isolated people, with or without children, to get involved by sharing or learning craft skills and contributing to the work of Kidzeco. The concept is Tracy Murdoch's, who set it up 3 and a half years ago. I visited her at the shop to find out more. 

“When my son started to grow out of things, I thought 'What can I do with this, it's too good to throw out'” she explains. She wanted to run a recycled baby goods shop, but also wanted to use it to further her passion for children and families' issues. “I had previously been a Development Worker, which had been an eye-opener for me in terms of the number of families and children in social isolation and difficult circumstances.” So whilst reducing waste and landfill is important – 40 tonnes have been saved from landfill so far via Kidzeco - for Tracy it's more about making things affordable for young families, teaching them how to reuse and recycle things themselves, and being a venue for classes where parents and preschoolers can get involved in fun activities. “The classes are not the sort where you leave the kids, it's very much about parent participation – we end up rolling around on the floor with the children!” says Tracy.

“I wanted Kidzeco to be a 'proper' shop from the beginning,” she says, and she has certainly achieved this. Items are organised into sections, making it easy to browse for what you want. There is a wide range of prams, pushchairs, cots and accessories as well as kids' clothes, swimwear, toys and books. All items are cleaned and quality checked before being offered for re-sale. There is a play area for your toddler while you browse and a separate parenting room with a changing table and comfy sofas for breastfeeding. But Kidzeco is all about affordability and reusing, not just re-selling. They have lots of ideas for re-using things at home, or making things out of items you already have. 

A room to the side has sewing machines, fabrics and projects in various stages of completion including baby quilts, bags and bunting. This is where “Fun with Fabrics” classes are held, where you can come and learn new skills in arts and crafts. The group makes quilts, blankets, clothes and accessories from recycled fabrics. They recently donated twenty quilts to an Alzeimer research fund-raiser, and some knitted blankets donated to Dogs Trust. So other charities benefit too. In addition, Kidzeco's in-house designer can make bespoke handmade clothes from remnants of new fabric donated by fabric shops – fabric that would otherwise be thrown out, but is turned into beautiful new items.


The most satisfying aspect of Kidzeco for Tracy is the involvement of young people who, funded by various grants, are bringing their skills and energy to Kidzeco, when they would otherwise be unemployed. There is always something going on at Kidzeco, and Tracy has many more plans - she would like to set up a skill-sharing group, in the near future; they are opening a new shop in Livingston next month and have much larger plans for Bathgate later this year.

Visit Kidzeco at 11 King Street, Bathgate, or a call them on 01506 815534.

Kidzeco is a not-for-profit community interest company.

www.kidzeco.net 

Volunteers and donations

All donations of babies' and children's clothing, equipment and furniture are accepted – almost everything can be used in some way, either to re-sell or be turned into other things. We can collect larger items from your home, please call us to arrange uplift. Also craft items such as beads, jewellery, trims, buttons and fabric donations are needed too.

We are always looking to expand our team and have various volunteering opportunities including retail, warehousing, admin, play and craft work. If you would like to be involved, please get in touch. 

© Lothian Publications Ltd 2013