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Heart-shaped points of light

Hearts Milk Bank, a startup supported by the Cambridge Social Ventures programme at Cambridge Judge Business School, is awarded a ‘Points of Light’ award by the UK Prime Minister for service to the community.

Heart-shaped points of light
Natalie & Gillian of Hearts Milk Bank
Natalie & Gillian of Hearts Milk Bank

The UK Prime Minister’s Office today (20 September) honoured Hearts Milk Bank, a startup supported by the Cambridge Social Ventures programme at Cambridge Judge Business School, with its “Points of Light” award for outstanding community service. Cambridge Social Ventures is part of the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation at the Business School.

Hearts Milk Bank was founded by Dr Natalie Shenker and Gillian Weaver, both from Hertfordshire, as the UK’s first independent, non-profit service to provide surplus milk to feed babies in need. The venture has so far supplied donor milk to feed over 1,000 babies cared for in 27 neonatal units in the UK and Ireland.

The Points of Light programme was first established in the US in 1990, and UK Points of Light was established in 2014. Each working day, the Prime Minister recognises outstanding individual volunteers – “people who are making a change in their community” and who have changed lives so “their stories can inspire thousands more to get involved or start their own initiatives”.

In a letter to Natalie, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Alongside Gillian, you have established a pioneering service that is transforming access to surplus breast milk across the UK. Your professional expertise and commitment to furthering research into the benefits of breastfeeding for premature babies is truly remarkable.”

In a letter to Gillian, the Prime Minister said: “The ‘Hearts Milk Bank’ service you founded with Natalie is having an incredibly positive impact for families and providing vital support for premature babies. The success of the service is a testament to your long experience managing milk banks across the UK and your dedication to improving awareness of breastfeeding.”

Natalie and Gillian said: “We happily accept these awards on behalf of all the volunteers whose contributions ensure the success of the ‘Hearts Milk Bank’. They include the Bloodbiker groups, whose volunteers collect and deliver the donated milk on a daily basis, volunteers with admin, financial and other technical expertise that has rapidly increased our ability to provide donor milk, and most importantly the 300 mothers who have already donated their milk and continue to ensure that the ‘Hearts Milk Bank’ freezers are well-stocked.

“The end result is that increasing numbers of families with poorly and premature babies, and babies with sick mothers, can receive safe, screened and specially-treated donor human milk that can be so beneficial.”