Sunderland mother who lost baby after childbirth praises apprenticeship for supporting her charity to help little ones in need
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A student at the University of Sunderland who tragically lost her daughter following childbirth has praised the university for the apprenticeship course which is helping her charity to support babies and children living in poverty.
Steph Capewell, 30, founded the Love Amelia charity following the heartbreaking death of her daughter Amelia in January 2018, who died just 12 minutes after being born.
In the days following Amelia’s passing, Steph met a young mother at the hospital who had recently given birth but had no supplies for her newborn baby. In an act of compassion, Steph shared some of Amelia's belongings to help other children.
Inspired to make a lasting impact, Steph created 12 boxes filled with essential baby items, symbolising each minute of Amelia's short life.
These boxes were gifted to families in need, carrying with them a letter signed as a gift from Amelia, offering support and a personal connection to those in need, and creating the name of the charity.
Amelia’s legacy inspired the launch of the charity which has now supported more than 13,000 children and their families.
Steph, from Castletown, is studying for a Senior Leader Apprenticeship at the city's university and she hopes the skills she develops will enable her to run her charity full time and benefit more disadvantaged children.
She said: “This is a charity very close to my heart and I really wanted to do it justice and make sure we deliver a service that is meaningful to those who need it.
“I chose the Senior Leader apprenticeship because I wanted to explore and enhance my skills. I think moving from a public to a voluntary sector organisation has been a very steep learning curve and I wanted to refine my knowledge and skills to really help the charity grow in the right way.
“As the organisation has developed over the last few years, I want to make sure that we are in the strongest possible position to continue that growth and deliver the best service possible, and I really feel that the course has helped me achieve that.
“I’ve been able to challenge myself, gain new perspectives and think about things in a very different way – not just looking at what we’re doing but why we’re doing it, and really looking at how we can challenge ourselves, move forward and make sure I can grow in line with the charity’s growth as well."
The knowledge Steph has gained is already having a positive impact on Love Amelia.
She added: “The programme hasn’t just supported me as an individual learner, but it has had a big impact on the organisation and the team.
“We’ve really been able to grow the organisation, particularly over the last year. We know demand has increased in the area but having the strength, the resource and the foundations right in the organisation to begin with has allowed us to really meet that demand and grow with the service.”
Steph is due to graduate next year (2025) and her final research project will explore the impact of childhood poverty and access to baby banks.
She said: “Childhood poverty has risen significantly over the last decade and access to baby banks is something that is on the rise.
“Research about baby banks is lacking and we really want to look at what the need is, why people are coming to a baby bank like Love, Amelia in the first place – but also the role of baby banks in addressing child poverty.”
Steph won the charity and volunteer award at the Wear Businesswomen Awards 2023 and also won Best Charity at the Who Cares Wins Awards, which aired on Channel 4 last year (2023).
Senior lecturer on the course, David Pearson, said: "Steph's dedication shines through in all her endeavours.
“The development of her charity is nothing short of inspirational, but what truly sets Steph apart is her unwavering focus on its growth and sustainability. She consistently aligns her studies with the charity's mission and goals and is always looking enhance its success."
Love Amelia's vision is "for no child to be without the essential items and equipment they need to be safe, happy and to thrive".