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Donations flood in to The Princess Project near Fremlin Walk in Maidstone which helps new mums

By Rebecca Tuffin

Down a little walkway in Fremlin Walk, between high-end jewellery shop Pandora and Clintons, is a base offering free supplies to new parents.

Called Totcycle, the small building has been operating in The United Reform Hall in Maidstone since 2016, but this year has seen more people than ever become aware of its vital work.

Run by The Princess Project, a recent Facebook post promoting its work reached 60,000 users, six times more than from any previous social media mention.

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The Princess Project, The Community Hub, The Vineries, Gillingham. 18 month old Daisy-Rose Steel with Bruinda Harvey, Emma Tanner and Beth Thompson from the Princess Project and mum Freda Payne. Picture: Matthew Walker. (6374784)
The Princess Project, The Community Hub, The Vineries, Gillingham. 18 month old Daisy-Rose Steel with Bruinda Harvey, Emma Tanner and Beth Thompson from the Princess Project and mum Freda Payne. Picture: Matthew Walker. (6374784)

On offer in the town centre is everything from nappies, clothes, car seats, stair gates, prams and pushchairs, all for free. There is also space for new parents to have a coffee and a chat.

The charity’s founder, Emma Tanner, said: “We have been inundated with donations, we could never be more grateful.”

And around 40 new mums are currently visiting the centre, open Fridays 10am to 2pm, each month. This up from around 10 a month last year.

The Princess Project began life in 2011 and also runs a befriending service, parenting courses at various locations. The charity is based in Park Wood.

The Princess Project, The Community Hub, The Vineries, Gillingham. Beth Thompson and Emma Tanner of the Princess Project. Picture: Matthew Walker. (6374769)
The Princess Project, The Community Hub, The Vineries, Gillingham. Beth Thompson and Emma Tanner of the Princess Project. Picture: Matthew Walker. (6374769)

Mum of two, Mrs Tanner, 41, came up with the idea while running a project at homeless charity Trinity Foyer, Maidstone, just after having her first child.

She said: “I met young mums going through the same thing as me, but in much tougher situations. It hit me that I could help.”

“A lot of mums are quite isolated, especially young or single parents. We’ve seen babies we worked with start school and this is what’s most important for us - walking alongside others.”

The Princess Project Maidstone hub (6401211)
The Princess Project Maidstone hub (6401211)

Golding Homes awarded the charity a £1,000 grant this year.

Sarah Leipnik from the housing association said: “It’s a great hub. There are dads as well as mums there. It’s a really positive environment.” Around 40 volunteers work for The Princess Project in Maidstone and Gillingham.

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