"Volunteering for the Perinatal Project"

About: Beeston Central Children's Centre Beeston North with Leyton Abbey Children's Centre Chilwell Children's Centre Stapleford Children's Centre

(as the patient),

I have been supporting local parents suffering from anxiety and low mood by doing home visits to families with babies (under 12 months).

I started out my journey with the childrens centres as a shy unconfident first time mum. Baby group was vital to me in the first few months to get me out of the house and get more used to being a parent. I was recovering from an emercency c-section and had complications resulting from birth that meant I found it difficult in those early weeks. I was very worried I would develop low moods and anxiety because I had suffered depression related illness before becoming a mother. Although I had not suffered postnatal depression, attending regular groups helped to break up the time I felt alone with my baby, and having people around me I could share concerns about my and my sons health really helped me to adjust and feel more able to cope.

Eventually I went on adult education courses (including confidence and first aid) to lift my self confidence and mix with other mums in a similar position to me. After the courses finished I felt I wanted to continue with the centre so went on a volunteering course to see what I could do next. I had a mind that I would like to do something with the centre to support families in the way I had felt supported by them. It was suggested that I put myself forward for the Perinatal Project and it seemed a natural fit.

I visit parents with babies under 12 months to befriend them and try to tackle mild to moderate low mood and anxiety. I usually visit them in their homes and spend on average 45 mins with them to discuss their situations. I am fully supported by my amazing mentors who are Childrens Centre Family Support workers, as well as the awesome Volunteer Coordinators. My mentors introduce me after careful preparation work with a view to have me visit on a weekly basis. As well as this I am put forward for relevant training such as domestic abuse awareness and safeguarding.

During the visits I try to let the parent lead me into being able to discuss the topics that are causing them concern such as feeding or sleeping, family relationships, housing etc and where necessary signpost the parent to sources of further support such as breastfeeding peer supporter, or a GP. I have been performing visits over the last 12 months and the experience has been incredibly rewarding.

It is a real privilege to be let into the lives of these beautiful little babies and see the love grow in their families. Every family has their own difficulties and worries and my work with them and with the Children's Centres has certainly enriched my own family life. Taking time away from my own toddler each week to speak with other adults has definitely helped my own mental health balance, and I cant wait to continue my volunteering visiting more families to continue this work.

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Response from Tina Hancock, Sure Start Children's Centres Service Manager, Broxtowe District, Sure Start, Health Partnerships

Dear Justanothermum,

Thank you so much for taking the time to post your experiences on this forum, it is always a pleasure to read wonderful stories like yours.

You describe a wonderful and emotional journey that has enriched your life and supported your development to become a confident person, able to support other mums through their tricky times. You are an amazing person.

It is evident from your post that you have grasped opportunity by the hand and recieved the support from staff at Children's Centre to not only look after your own emotional health and well-being, but also those mums who are in a suitation now that you were in some time ago.

I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of myself and all the staff within the centres to thank you for sharing your wonderful story.

Thank you so much


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