Who are we?
Karen McCully is a Lactation Consultant who established two successful groups for new parents in Tonbridge and Sevenoaks and Jennie Yelverton is a Breastfeeding Counsellor who founded Baby Cafe Tunbridge Wells which has been successfully running for seven years. Over a coffee we decided it was time to join forces and improve and join up our community services for parents across West Kent!
What do we do?
Our three groups are FREE for all parents (including tea, coffee and homemade cakes) and support families for as long as they need us. This ongoing compassionate care of the families makes us different - there is no question too small and we welcome social visitors both before and after they have their baby. We answer questions about all aspects of feeding babies - breastfeeding, using infant formula, combination feeding, expressing, introducing solids and going back to work and support those with more difficult experiences, for example offering a safe place to parents with postnatal depression. We complement the NHS services and work closely with them to ensure continuity of care.
What problem does this fundraising solve?
There is not enough support for new parents, particularly when struggling to feed their baby. Our team was formed by two leaders of infant feeding support joining forces to provide consistent, ongoing care for families in the communities of Tonbridge, Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells. Successful groups have been running in these towns but we are struggling to support the numbers we are now attracting. We also know that those who have received support want to give back to the community and many want to volunteer or work with parents. Training for a group of peer supporters will offer an invaluable resource to our three groups as well as continuity of care for parents. It will offer free training and ongoing mentoring for trainees from our Infant feeding specialists in each group. Extra trained mum to mum support will mean that less complex cases can be dealt with more quickly and with a shorter wait time, with the specialists being freed up to attend to mothers who need urgent support. We will also train our volunteers in our quality standards across the three groups so their skills can be used in all locations.
Why is it important?
Early parenthood can be a lonely and confusing time. Providing somewhere safe and comfortable where parents can come and be welcomed each week makes a huge difference to their wellbeing and confidence. Being able to ask any questions on a regular basis is incredibly valuable and being parent-centred we empower parents to make the decisions that are right for them and their family. There is no judgement at our groups and they are inclusive for everyone.
What does the future hold?
We would love to be able to provide feeding support for more parents, to increase the services we offer via social media in between sessions and to continue our important work as the main provider of high quality long-term feeding support in West Kent. We would like to attract more volunteers and increase opportunities for them and continue our collaborative working to achieve the best quality care for everyone we work with.