Parents receiving support at Cambridgeshire hospitals are benefitting from packs of premature baby clothes this winter.

Tesco has donated thousands of packs of F&F Premature Baby Essentials to neonatal units at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Peterborough City Hospital, and Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

Each pack contains sleepsuits, bodysuits, hats, and scratch mitts and is distributed by the Salvation Army.

Jan Marchant, managing director for Tesco’s Home & Clothing, said: “Premature babies are often unexpected, and it can be difficult to find clothing items to fit at such short notice.

“We want to provide practical help to mums and dads across Cambridgeshire during a stressful time and help give the babies a stronger start in life.”

The supermarket chain is donating 23,000 packs of F&F Premature Baby Essentials to 157 neonatal units across the country, meaning half of premature babies will receive the products.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said: “Having a baby born prematurely can be a really worrying time for so many, and with our hard-working staff across the country continuing to do all they can to provide care and support to premature babies and their families, it is fantastic that Tesco is donating specialist baby clothing to every NHS neonatal unit across England to provide additional help.

“These clothing packs could make a huge difference to tens of thousands of babies and their families who need it most over the next year, and we are extremely grateful to Tesco, and to the Salvation Army, for making this possible.”

Data from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that 7-10% of babies on average are born prematurely in England and Wales.

Kirk Bradley, head of corporate partnerships at the Salvation Army, added: “We are happy to be supporting Tesco to deliver these much-needed items of clothing to the NHS neo-natal units, which are saving young lives.

“Providing this support means The Salvation Army can continue to provide practical help for people in need across the UK. These generous donations provide comfort for the most vulnerable and give these families essentials in their time of need.”

New mum, Zoe, whose son Huxley was born prematurely at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, added: “It was such a big milestone for us to be able to put him in clothes after seven weeks.  The items donated from Tesco to the neo-natal units will be crucial to many parents who have experienced a premature birth.

“As the baby clothing has Velcro fittings it makes dressing and undressing the baby easier. It’s so great that Tesco produces premature baby clothing to fit tiny newborns.”

At Christmas, Tesco stores collected tens of thousands of toys from generous shoppers to support struggling families.

The supermarket chain has also stepped in to help families struggling with the cost-of-living crisis by donating almost 4,000 new F&F coats to people in need through FareShare, the Salvation Army and the Cottage Family Centre children’s charity in Kirkcaldy.

In July 2023 it launched Stronger Starts: a £5m grant programme, in partnership with Groundwork UK, to give children across the UK a strong start in life by helping schools and children’s groups provide nutritious food and healthy activities to support young people’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Claire De Silva, head of communities at Tesco said: “Through our Stronger Starts programme, we’re supporting children to get the best possible start in life, whether that’s helping out with their first baby grow, or as they grow up, providing funding for nutritious food and activity equipment in schools and community groups where it is needed most.”