Thornbury breastfeeding support project wins Queen’s award
Up to 40 volunteers who support breastfeeding Mums 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 Breastfeeding Peer Support Project provides emotional and practical support to new mothers. Weekly groups are held at venues in Thornbury, Yate and across South Gloucestershire. The Thornbury group, called Sweet Peas meets at Thornbury Hospital’s Outpatient Department on Thursdays between 1pm and 2.30.
Since it was commissioned in 2011, it’s helped over one thousand women, and more than 400 families use it every year.
The trained volunteers act as ‘peer supporters’, to help mothers for as long as is needed. They work with women giving any amount of breast milk, via any method.
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 are 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.”
One mother 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.”
Cllr Erica Williams, Cabinet member for public health at South Gloucestershire Council, said; “I was thrilled to learn that the volunteers who help run this council-commissioned service have won such a prestigious Queen’s Award. Different levels of support are available to mothers who use this service, including access to advice from a breastfeeding counsellor, and the seven community-based breastfeeding groups – run by the volunteers – where mothers can go to get ongoing peer support to help them breastfeed their babies for as long as they wish to. Well done to everyone involved in this fantastic initiative.”
The volunteers will receive a certificate signed by the Queen and a domed glass crystal, to be presented by the Lord Lieutenant later this summer.