View from the villages: Families you are not alone

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Mother and baby
Many new parents and parents-to-be are feeling isolated as a result of the coronavirus restrictions

A few weeks ago I visited the new cafe in Great Barford for its opening day. There was a lovely friendly village atmosphere and whilst there I got chatting to a few other mums who were also in.

One lady I chatted to who has a six-month-old baby, said how she felt really cut off from support for herself and her baby and the baby hadn’t been weighed since it was born.

She also said how she hadn’t made the friends with other mums as she hoped she would have done due to the first lockdown and all the COVID restrictions over summer.

She felt that she was missing out on that good group of parent friends to chat to, share stories and tips with, and that support which is so vital in the early years.

There’s no doubt it is tricky situation and ironic that despite the ward I represent having such lovely family-friendly communities, the circumstances we’re in can mean people feel so isolated, when they are surrounded by so many other families in the same situation.

I was able to share with the mums I met in the café a few resources I’ve heard of and I thought that it would be useful to share them here too.

Now that the Government has announced a second lockdown I want to say how vital it is to reach out for support if you need it and how many organisations are now better prepared to be able to offer support- you really aren’t alone and I encourage you to reach out if you want more help or support, or just some friendly faces.

Many services are being offered online and while it’s not the same as physically meeting, it’s certainly better than nothing at all (and actually when you consider how hard it can be to get everyone dressed and out of the house, meeting online can be a bit of a blessing some days).

I have certainly found that having some online activities and support has been invaluable for me and my family.

Bedford Borough Children’s Centres are running online sessions with stories and singing on Facebook @bedfordcc and their website www.ecpbedford.org as well as online Wellbeing Groups for a coffee morning style chat and share stories of family life.

They also have Dad Activity Packs for dads, granddads, uncles, brothers etc. The pack is delivered to your door the day before for you to enjoy together (email admin@ecpbedford.org or call 0300 323 0245 to book your place).

The health visitor teams are still available to help you and answer any questions you may have, and they have been sending texts to parents to remind you that they are still here to help.

They can be contacted on 0300 555 0606 or email ccs.beds.childrens.spa@nhs.net They are running virtual sessions on Wednesdays 10-11am which can be accessed via https://bit.ly/3iCkH1B.

If you have personalised queries you can ring to speak to a health visitor about your child.

For less formal support, there are a number of local Facebook groups such as ‘Mums and Dads of Bedford’, ‘Bedford 2020 Mums and Mums-to-be’ and ‘Bedfordshire Mums’ which you may not already be aware of.

There are also national groups like FAMILY LOCKDOWN TIPS & IDEAS which has recently featured on the national news. I am a member and I find that it certainly provides plenty of amusement as well as personal stories.

There is also the Peanut app where you can meet other like-minded parents with children of similar ages.

If you need help with feeding (breastfeeding, formula or combo) then there are a number of charities who can help:

La Leche League https://www.laleche.org.uk/supportgroup/la-leche-league-bedford-and-luton/

NCT https://www.nct.org.uk/local-activities-meet-ups/region-east-england/north-bedfordshire – they also run online antenatal courses

The Breastfeeding Network https://www.nct.org.uk/local-activities-meet-ups/region-east-england/north-bedfordshire

The NCT is also running online antenatal courses for new parents and refresher courses to help make friends in advance of birth and to learn more about life with a baby.

Whilst physical baby ‘classes’ can’t run, I’ve heard that many will still be running online. I am pleased to see in a tweet from the Minister that babies are exempt from the two people exercising together rule so parents with young children will still be able to meet with one other person.

It may be harder to find other parents at the moment but there is certainly plenty of help out there and I hope these tips will help families to make connections and support each other, and one day meeting up will be easier again.

by Cllr Phillippa Martin-Moran-Bryant
Great Barford Ward (comprising Cardington, Cople, Great Barford, Ravensden, Renhold -including Cranbourne Gardens, Willington and Woodlands Park -part of Brickhill Parish)

Email: Phillippa.MartinMoranBryant@Bedford.gov.uk
Tel: 07934 853 907

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