HMF’s new partnership with Black Sheep Brewery is aimed at raising awareness by rebranding the labels on every bottle of Milk Stout to include information about the charity.
Black Sheep Brewery also plans to make regular donations to HMF, which provides donor human milk through the Hearts Milk Bank to sick and premature babies in hospital neonatal care units as well as families who are unable to provide breastmilk themselves.
The charity has grown rapidly since it launched in 2017 and was established by a group of parents, scientists, milk bank experts and doctors to provide potentially life-saving donor milk to more than 40 NHS hospitals, as well as hundreds of families in the community alongside specialist lactation support.
Making donor milk readily available
HMF co-founder and director Natalie Shenker said: “We are delighted to partner with Black Sheep Brewery as they share our strong sense of social responsibility and community, as well as our passion for innovating and breaking boundaries.
“After successfully opening the first ever non-profit human milk bank in the UK, the Hearts Milk Bank, we now hope with the support of Black Sheep, we can build on this success to fund the expansion of our milk bank operations so we can make safe, screened donor milk available for families across England and Wales.”
A condition called necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) kills more babies each year than childhood leukaemia and the charity has seen a 100% increase in the demand for donor milk since the coronavirus pandemic which bought an immediate need to raise funds to help those in need of support.
Breast milk can prevent babies from developing NEC, so when mum’s own milk is not available, donor milk can act as a medicine to protect the baby.
Only the tiniest, sickest babies have generally been eligible to receive donor milk via the NHS and HMF was set up to address this inequality, their aim is to scale up so eventually every baby who could benefit can have access to donor milk.
Black Sheep’s Milk Stout brand, which is brewed with lactose and was named the UK’s best dark beer at the International Brewing & Cider Awards in 2019, has proven particularly popular with males aged 30-45 and HMF hope to engage with those who are unaware of the help available to support mothers struggling to breastfeed.
Giving back to local communities
Black Sheep Brewery chief executive Charlene Lyons, who inspired the partnership, said: “With our upcoming partnership with HMF, and the roll-out of our new bottle labels in-store, we now hope to continue giving back to local communities and reach parents - especially dads and dads-to-be.”
“If we can help to normalise discussions about equitable access to human milk, this will be an important first step, enabling us to shine a light on how more people can contribute to and benefit from the life-saving support that the HMF provides.
“For this great cause and as a brand that likes to do things differently, we look forward to drawing on our creativity to raise more awareness.”