A young woman from Plumstead who was abandoned as a newborn has launched a campaign for baby boxes to be introduced across the UK.

Toyin Odumala was left outside a block of flats wrapped in a denim jacket shortly after being born in July 2001.

The 22-year-old was taken to a nearby hospital after being discovered by dog walkers and later adopted by a loving family.

But after reading about the recent case of baby Elsa - a newborn similarly abandoned in Newham, East London - Toyin was reminded of the fact that babies like her were still being abandoned in the UK.

She believes mothers should be given an alternative option to leave their child somewhere they know it will be cared for, which baby boxes could provide.

Baby boxes, also sometimes called baby hatches, are provided in many European countries as well as the United States and China to allow mothers to anonymously abandon their babies in a safe place, for them to be looked after and cared for.

The temperature-controlled hatches are installed at hospitals and fire stations and have sensors that alert emergency services when a baby is placed inside.

In the US, parents who abandon their babies in Safe Haven Baby Boxes are given protection from prosecution if they use a hatch and the baby is healthy.

Previous studies have estimated that around 16 babies are abandoned across the UK every year.

Toyin, who has launched a Change.org petition which already boasts more than 38,000 signatures, says her own mother might have been relieved to know her baby would be looked after if a safe space to leave her child had been available.

However, the baby hatch scheme is not supported by charities including Save the Children, as it contradicts advice from The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which states that every child should have the right to be 'known and cared for by his or her parents'.

But she argues the boxes would help both the babies and their mothers, saying: "I just feel mothers should have another option instead of having to resort to doing something like that.

"It would put the mother's mind more at ease, instead of leaving their baby to be abandoned.

"It could be helpful for their mental health because they know their baby is somewhere safe and being looked after instead of worrying for the rest of their lives.

"And obviously for the baby it's much better; it's much better to know that's how it was done instead of being abandoned.

"I just want to make a change for the future babies, so things like this don't keep happening."

She launched her baby box petition after reading about baby Elsa, who was abandoned hours after being born and left on a park bench in freezing conditions in a plastic bag last month.

She was only discovered after dog walkers saw the bag moving.

"I was on TikTok and saw a video of baby Elsa come up, which brought back all the pain," she explained.

"Because of what I have been through, I was very triggered by it.

"Something has to be done because it's still happening. Baby Elsa shows it's something that's still going on.

"We don't really know how many babies have been dumped - the statistics are only for the ones who were found.

"It was freezing when baby Elsa was left. Luckily for me, I was born in the summer.

"She's lucky to still be here."

Toyin was placed into care for four months before she was taken in by her adoptive Nigerian parents, who told her aged 11 about how she had been abandoned as a baby.

She was later afforded the opportunity to contact her birth mother, who had come forward following a previous appeal.

The mother and daughter exchanged letters, in which the former explained she did not have the correct papers to stay in the UK when she abandoned her daughter, and thought she would have to return to the Ivory Coast.

The letter also revealed that the woman is still living in the UK and that Toyin has four half-siblings.

Ms Odumala, who want to have children of her own someday, says she's 'conflicted' as to whether she wants to meet her mother in person.

"Some days I do, some I don't," she said.

"It would be hard to meet someone knowing she left me there. But maybe one day.

"My personal experience drives my campaign. I'm sure other people who have been through it have felt similarly.

"A lot of people have messaged me on social media saying it's a good idea and the boxes should be in the UK.

"I just think it's something that should be an option here.

"The UK needs these boxes; we need to support new and expecting mothers by offering them mental health support and advice in safe spaces which can help reduce the number of women making the painful decision to abandon their newborns.

"This is not just about saving lives; it's about providing support for those who feel they have no other options left."

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) says improving care before, during and after pregnancy was one of its top priorities, but did not comment on Ms Odumala's petition.

It said mental health services around England were being expanded to include new mental health hubs for new, expectant or bereaved mothers.

Petition: https://www.change.org/p/implement-safe-haven-baby-boxes-in-the-uk