On Monday I popped into Café Forever on the Isle of Dogs in London E14, to meet with the ‘Bumps and Babies’ Group – part of the Community Parents initiative. The group aims to support people when they become a parent or are new to the area. It’s open to mums and dads and expectant mums and dads.
Cafe Forever is a ministry of London City Mission which ‘exists to share with the people of London, the transforming love of God in Jesus Christ, and to enable them to join his church.’
Speaking with some of the parents attending, I gained an understanding of the value of this opportunity for parents to meet with one another.
Gabby, a first time mum was visiting the group for the first time with 3 month old Frazer, who was sleeping for the most part. She spoke with me saying:
“Today is my first time and it’s really good and relaxing. I love to meet more people.
Being a new mum can be challenging at times. It’s important to share things especially when we all go through the same things at the same time. I love sharing and talking to people. Sharing makes you talk about good experiences. You learn when you talk about an issue. It also helps other people.
Frazer can be quite grumpy when he can’t sleep and he has just slept. Sometimes I get hung up about schedules. If he doesn’t get enough sleep he will be grumpy. People say if babies are sleepy they will sleep anywhere, at any time. He is sleeping now – good proof of that advice!
As a new mum the biggest challenge is that I am now responsible for another person – it is no longer all about my own wellbeing.”
Community Parents was set up by Rachel Redfearn, a local midwife and community worker to support first time parents on the Isle of Dogs. The project offers one to one mentoring and facilitates groups and activities for new and expectant parents – supporting individuals and couples from pregnancy, until the child is 8 months old. A big part of its aim is to help new parents establish behaviours which will support and sustain family life from the start. Community Parents are local parents who have received training in supporting new mums and couples.
Natalie, a new mum with a 4 month old baby explained how it was helpful to listen to others who had lost their profession to become parents. “It’s good to meet people, speak to mums and share experiences. Sometimes you feel that you are left alone and your husband is at work. Meeting other mums, going out together and sharing difficulties helps. When both parents work you have two incomes. Things change and I could definitely relate to what people were sharing. It’s about big changes and how you cope with them.”
Louisa, a new mum shared:
“I started coming to Bumbs and Babies when Leonardo was 4 weeks old. I was on my way home from the Barkantine Practice and Leonardo was crying. I was doing a figure of 8 with his pram, trying to calm him down. A lady came by on a bike and gave me a pamphlet and said ‘It looks like you could do with this’. It was a leaflet to Bumps and Babies.
I was looking for a group like this and really welcomed the fact that she gave me this leaflet. I try to come every week if Leonardo is being a good boy. It’s great to meet other women in the community who have babies the same age. It is nice to have an outlet to chat to other people, rather than just my husband or baby talk. Discussions here vary – it’s often about babies and what stage they’re in, our jobs, if we are going to go back, if we miss working, what we are going to be doing, upcoming vacations and things we are doing for Christmas.
The group is a great outlet. If you have frustrations with the baby it’s good to talk to other women who understand. It’s good to hear about upcoming events in the community like Pilates classes and baby massage.
Leonardo loves the group. He is too young to interact with other babies but loves the attention from other women. When they come to talk to him, he smiles.”
Hajni from Hungary visits the group with 7 month old Anna and shared:
“I first came when Anna was 5 days old. My friend told me about the club and I wanted to meet other mums and share experiences. The first few times I came with my husband and he loved it too. I am looking forward to starting ‘Sign and Sing’ from September – we had a trial here and it was really good. Usually our friends meet here in this group. These groups are really important because we have no family around, so if you have a problem you can share it here. The main thing is you can go out with the baby and don’t have to stay at home. You can have a chat with other mums and share a coffee too.”
Heather, a volunteer at Community Parents facilitates the group and kindly explained: ‘Many of us know the benefits of timely support or wish we had received it when we were new parents and now we’d like to offer it to others. The desire is for healthier, happier families, parents and children. The group does not charge for activities and relies on funding from several local and national organisations.
The Bumps and Babies Group meets every Monday (except Bank holidays) at 1.30pm at Café Forever. A Community Parent is always present to help to share information, register people for other Community Parent options (currently one to one mentoring or Pilates classes), or just offer a listening ear and a welcome to whoever turns up. There is no age limit for the babies or limit on how many siblings can come. The group is open to mums and dads and expectant mums and dads.’ For more information click here or telephone Heather on 07847 015829 or 020 7531 0314.
Many thanks to all for their assistance and contributions.
Peace and love, Sky