Around 40 volunteers who support breastfeeding mothers across South Gloucestershire, including those who attend a weekly session in Bradley Stoke, are to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest accolade which can be given to volunteer groups in the UK.
The Barnardo’s South Gloucestershire Breastfeeding Peer Support Project provides emotional and practical support to new mothers through a team of volunteers who have been intensively trained to understand breastfeeding and how to support mothers.
The volunteers, known as ‘peer supporters’, are available to help mothers in local groups, for as long as is needed, working with mothers giving any amount of breast milk, via any means.
More than a thousand mothers are thought to have been helped by the service since it was first commissioned by South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) in 2011. More than 2,000 hours were volunteered last year alone.
One mother attending a group said: “Becoming a mum and breastfeeding were the best but also the hardest things I’ve ever done. The support from the group made all the difference.”
Another simply said: “The group made me realise that things would get better and I wasn’t alone.”
Barnardo’s breastfeeding counsellor Ann Watts said:
“We are delighted our selfless volunteers have received royal recognition for their amazing achievements. Their enthusiasm and commitment is outstanding.”
“They are all mums with their own young families but they all wanted to ‘give something back’ to their local community.”
“They provide a warm, welcoming and encouraging environment, which is so vitally important for new mothers but especially for those feeling anxious and overwhelmed.”
Cllr Erica Williams, SGC’s Cabinet member for public health, said:
“I was thrilled to learn that the volunteers who help run this council-commissioned service have won such a prestigious Queen’s Award. Well done to everyone involved in this fantastic initiative.”
In recognition of their achievement, the team will receive a certificate signed by the Queen and a domed glass crystal, to be presented by the Lord Lieutenant later this summer.
• The Bradley Stoke Breastfeeding Support Group meets weekly on Thursdays, between 1pm and 2.30pm, at Bowsland Green Primary School, Ellicks Close. Further information may be found at www.facebook.com/groups/BOBBS/
Photo: Award winning peer supporters Jess Dane, Aimee Caress, Stephanie Szeki (all on the back row) with local mums Victoria Cherriman and Abby Jones, who attended one of the weekly Bradley Stoke drop-in sessions for support.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on page 21). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
POSTSCRIPT: The Bradley Stoke group resumes its meetings following the summer break on Thursday 6th September 2018.
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