May Charity of the Month – Gloucestershire Breastfeeding Support Network
Can you believe it’s the last day of April? Which means it’s time to wave goodbye to our current charity of the month the NSPCC and welcome a new one. Now when it comes to your baby my personal opinion is that a Mum should be supported to do whatever works best for her and her new family free from any pressure to opt for either breast of bottle. So any organisation that is going to support a mother to do what makes her happy is one that I will always support. This month it’s a local one – Gloucestershire Breastfeeding Support Network and here is Elaine Minett-Smith, Trustee to tell you more about their great work. – CMHQ x
Gloucestershire Breastfeeding Supporters’ Network (GBSN) run 7 breastfeeding support groups throughout Gloucestershire, in Cheltenham, Gloucester, Cirencester, Stroud, Dursley, Churchdown and Tewkesbury. These groups all run weekly, offering information, encouragement and support to families at any stage of their breastfeeding journey, from pregnancy through any challenges, to weaning from the breast and beyond. You can take a look at the groups and when they run here.
All of our groups are run by peer supporters who are mums that have breastfed their own babies and are trained to listen and respond sensitively. We also have a qualified Breastfeeding Counsellor on hand at each group, as well as a wealth of books and DVDs available to borrow free-of-charge.
Mums visiting our groups are made to feel very welcome. The environment is relaxing and safe, which is great for mums new to breastfeeding, especially if they are worried about feeding their baby in public. For many, this is a great opportunity to overcome that fear with other mums experiencing the same as them.
Those mums who already feel comfortable breastfeeding, are feeding older babies or even have older children are also welcome to our groups. We provide refreshments and cake for parents (often the only chance of drinking a hot drink whilst children are around) and toys and books for children to keep them entertained. The support we offer is ongoing and mums are welcome to visit as a one-off, weekly, or as little or often as they like. Take a look at the group details for your nearest group.
In May, we will be celebrating our 10th anniversary with an afternoon tea party. This is an event to thank all of our volunteers from the last decade. With their support, we have helped approximately 30,000 families with breastfeeding support.
Although we have faced challenges during that time, 2017 is our most uncertain year yet. We receive no funding from the NHS to help us carry out our valuable work. For the 2016/2017 financial year we need to raise approximately £28,000 to keep our groups running. This is a considerable challenge for a small charity run entirely by volunteers with small children at home.
During the month of May we will be running a fundraising campaign #ten4gbsn. We are asking for you to support us by donating just £10. This would fund the training of our vital breastfeeding counsellors and peer supporters to keep the groups running free of charge at a time when mums are at their most vulnerable and to maintain our resource library with the latest books and DVDs. The donations are gratefully received and will have a positive outcome for Gloucestershire families wishing to use our service.
Here’s a little video about the service.
Here’s what a few people have said about the work of GBSN….
“Having breastfed my three children, I understand how important it is to receive good ongoing breastfeeding support and information. GBSN’s groups provide just that, coupled with a relaxed, welcoming setting. This resource is a big asset to families in Gloucestershire”. Sharron Davies, MBE.
“GBSN gave me the support and information that I needed to exclusively breastfeed my son to 6 months and continue to feed him until he was 13 months old. I strongly believe that without this support network we would have failed in the early days as we both had problems with ‘technique’ and I had little confidence in my post-natal condition. The network has also given me the invaluable opportunity to support other mothers through training to become a Peer Supporter. This role continues to form an important part of my life and I hope that the network can continue to offer such an excellent value for money service to mothers and ultimately the wider community”. Kate, Dursley.
“I usually attend MOBS in Stroud, but my first experience of GBSN was when the Breastfeeding Counsellor from Tewkesbury came to talk to my antenatal group, and I subsequently attended the Tewkesbury group once of twice for support. The main difficulty I had when starting to breastfeed was a tongue tie that was missed by five (yes, five) midwives, and the pain was toe-curling. In my birth preparation and reading I had joined a few Facebook breastfeeding groups, and it was through those that I knew to push further, and one night, around week three, when I was up in the wee hours doing a night feed and at the end of my tether, I emailed a lactation consultant. The tie was diagnosed and divided quickly, but it wasn’t the magic wand I had been led to believe; the thing that really helped us turn the corner and get back on track were the mouth awareness exercises given to me for my son by the local La Leche League leader, and the regular and unfailing support of GBSN. The GBSN Breastfeeding Counsellor was perfectly lovely when I called her up and cried at her on the phone…sorry again!” Amy Pinchbeck-Smith, Dursley Peer Supporter.