Bromley Brighter Beginnings’ A Bed for Every Child Campaign: Transforming Lives, One Bed at a Time

Bromley Brighter Beginnings (BBB) is a volunteer-led charity which launched their ‘A Bed for Every Child’ campaign in 2016. It aims to provide children with a comfortable, functional bed of their own along with clean, warm bedding.  Volunteer Madeleine Hay was instrumental in kick-starting this campaign when BBB found that the children in many of the families they were helping were sleeping on old or broken beds, sharing with siblings or parents, or sleeping on the sofa or floor. Bedding was non-existent, inadequate or dirty, sometimes ruined by bedtime accidents or the family did not have adequate washing facilities within the home.

I see first-hand the impact of the programme – whole families’ lives are changed. A child’s behaviour at school and home, their confidence, mental and physical health are all improved as a direct result of having their own bed.

~ Madeleine Hay (A Bed for Every Child Coordinator – BBB) 

Each year, the demand for this service grows as awareness of the campaign spreads among local professionals who refer families to BBB, and as the number of families living in poverty continues to rise. In the last 5 years BBB have provided 654 beds (238 last year alone – an increase of nearly 400% on 2018/19), spending over £212.8k on beds, mattresses and bedding.  

Social workers have told us of the relief of finally being able to provide beds for some of the poorest families they work with, schools have written to us to report that the behaviour of children we have helped has drastically improved simply from being able to have a good night’s sleep, and families feed back to us directly that their children are thrilled to have a bed that is absolutely theirs and doesn’t need to be shared.

~ Madeleine Hay 

Bed poverty is a very real issue: an estimated 894,000 children across the UK have had to share a bed or sleep on the floor in the last 12 months, according to Barnados. Families are having to prioritise essentials such as food, heating and electricity, making a new bed an unaffordable luxury for many. 

The campaign provides beds with in-built storage, so the child has somewhere to keep their belongings, with a new mattress, duvet, pillows, and either new or preloved bedding. Giving a child a bed really is so important, but it costs BBB approximately £305 to provide just one complete bed set. 

The charity aims to uphold the dignity of the families they support, ensuring they feel safe and respected by those who interact with them. Many families are vulnerable, facing challenges such as domestic violence, language barriers, mental health issues, or the need for flexibility around work or hospital appointments. It is important that BBB work with a trusted supplier to ensure these needs are sympathetically handled when beds are delivered and installed.  

Len Gillam has been supplying the beds for the ‘A Bed for Every Child’ campaign since 2017, as an employee with BBB’s first supplier Surrey Beds, and since 2022 as the proprietor of Beacon Beds. Beds are fully installed on delivery by Len and his helpers as the families supported often aren’t equipped with the tools to do so themselves.  

What I love about Len is that he really listens, cares and is mindful about the individual circumstances of each and every family we help. He accommodates the needs of each case, from being super-flexible on delivery times and days to reassessing a bed situation that is not practical for that family. His friendly approachable demeanour helps our vulnerable clients feel at ease. He truly is an all-round star. We are very grateful for all he does.

~ Madeleine Hay 

Over the years Len has witnessed first-hand the incredible impact of this campaign and has shared his experience: 

The overriding and most rewarding aspect of my role is the reaction of each and every child, their smiles, excitement and elation are something to behold. These reactions evoke, not only immense satisfaction and pleasure, but a sense of humbleness, that this simple piece of furniture which most of us take for granted could make such an immeasurable difference. 

Bromley Brighter Beginnings doesn’t just provide a bed but injects a realisation of self-worth and self-esteem. None of this could be achieved without the hard work, dedication and sacrifices made by the volunteers of this remarkable charity. They really are changing children’s lives.

~Len Gillam, Beacon Beds

Bromley Brighter Beginnings is only able to provide this service thanks to the generous grants received from organisations such as Global’s Make Some Noise and The National Lottery Community Fund, as well as donations from local groups, clubs and schools and the fundraising efforts and donations of individual supporters. The programme simply could not operate without this vital funding.  

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