27th April 2016
Jayne Hollinshead, one of our Fellows, shares her experience of setting up a new Ready Steady Mums group in Walsall.
Our local postnatal group, First Steps, is a six-week course offering new parents the opportunity to learn how to support their baby’s development whilst meeting new parents and sharing their experiences of parenthood. Each course evaluation concludes that parents don’t want to stop meeting up and that attending the sessions has helped them to meet new friends and normalise their transition to parenthood.
During the session about emotional wellbeing, the benefits of exercise and socialising are explored; we introduced the concept of the Ready Steady Mums ‘Socialcise’ to a group of mothers and asked whether anyone would volunteer to co-ordinate a Ready Steady Mums group from a central point within Walsall. The mums agreed that the Arboretum in the town centre would be an ideal location as it is central to bus routes and has a visitor centre and a café with changing facilities. Rachael, one of the mums, volunteered readily to co-ordinate the group alongside her new friend Michelle.
The mums agreed to meet up at the same time the postnatal group had been held, the week following the course graduation. The walk around the arboretum takes between forty-five minutes to one hour, after which the mums enjoy lunch and a natter in the café.
Rachael has now used her charm to gain access, free-of-charge, to a large room within the Arboretum visitor centre, where the mums take toys and enjoy lunch and playtime together.
The group continues to flourish; graduates of the postnatal group are encouraged to join in the fun and friends of friends are joining in order to have some fresh air, chat and develop support networks with other local parents. Each week sees between 10-12 mums and their babies meeting up.
Ready Steady Mums Walsall was established seamlessly, by health visitors bringing new parents together, supporting them to recognise the value of sharing their mothering experiences and encouraging mothers with skills to organise and communicate effectively to facilitate a free-of-charge, health-enhancing community development project that is having a positive impact on local families.
Jayne Hollinshead, FiHV