Today an era came to an end – my last clinic where I offered breastfeeding support working for a Children’s Centre.
This is how it started: Back in 2002 breastfeeding support was offered by Volunteer organisations and Health professionals, all working on their own doing the best they could. Being aware of the limitations that come with volunteering and organisations we founded the Breastfeeding Project Group (BPG) to see if we could achieve more by working together.
We started our first Volunteer Breastfeeding support session within a Weighing clinic at Comley Bank and from there it snowballed. In 2003 North Leyton Sure Start offered us a paid job as Breastfeeding counsellor and I haven’t looked back since.
The BPG organised (funded by the local Public Health Programme) a Breastfeeding Conference and training days for staff and soon the Children’s Centres trained peer supporters and added Breastfeeding Cafes to the support network, which kept growing.
I ran a few pilot projects – my favourite was visiting families within 48 hours of leaving the hospital. It was a project with long hours 7 days a week and it made such a difference. The parents didn't need to desperately search for help and a lot of problems either didn’t get started or got nipped in the bud which meant happier parents and breastfeeding could continue as long as people wished.
Then in 2010 the new government came in and within a year a lot of what we had built up (some of it as volunteers) had been dismantled.
Some Children’s Centres managed to keep breastfeeding support going with shrinking budgets for quite a while and I was lucky to be part of that support system all that time.
From September on the Children’s Centres will still offer breastfeeding support groups, but they are not paid for out of their budget. Breastfeeding is now looked after by the local Public Health Department.
The groups are run by staff who have done the 3 day Unicef training (I assume something like this: http://www.unicef.org.uk/BabyFriendly/Health-Professionals/Training/childrens-centres/), what else will be in place I don’t know.
What I do know is that I am not part of the Children’s Centre support network anymore.
I have supported 1000s of families over the years and loved being part of this wonderful community. I have learned a lot from the parents and the babies and it is with a heavy heart that I say ‘Good Bye’.
Thank you for trusting me.
Thank you for the honour to be part of your journey.