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7 Year Celebration for Bump Baby and Beyond

Local community group celebrates 7 years of helping parents and young children to get off to the best start in life with a call for new volunteers.

Dumfries based charity Bump, Baby and Beyond, which started life as Mum2Mum Friends in 2010, is an entirely volunteer run organisation that provides a range of group and online based supports to parents and their young children.

Starting as an online breastfeeding support group in 2010 the parent volunteers quickly identified a range of gaps in the provision of support to new parents and set about growing their own community based activities to meet the needs of fellow mums and dads.

The charity now boasts an amazing range of supports delivered through a series of parent led projects which now also include Dumfries and Galloway Nappy Library, Dumfries Sling Library and the Babes in the Woods projects.  Alongside these are monthly sensory and messy play sessions, a children’s book group, and two adult social groups which host a craft night and book group each month.

Collectively the charity sees over 100 families attending sessions every month and many hundreds more accessing online support through their key facebook groups Mum2MumFriends, Mummies United and Bump, Baby and Beyond.  These sites provide much needed safe spaces for parents to discuss the challenges of the early days of parenthood; seek practical advice and direction in relation to their parenting journey as their child grows; and offer vital guide to what’s on for families in the community.

Trustee Mirka Soukopova said “It’s hard to believe that 7 years has past but we felt it was really important to stop for a moment and appreciate all the hard work that has gone in to get us to this point.  Most importantly to say thank you to every volunteer, regardless of the extent of their involvement, who has helped us along the way.”
Mirka went on to explain the need for their current drive for new volunteers, “We rely heavily on parent volunteers, who will always be the backbone of our organisation, but unfortunately they can outgrow their roles as their children grow older.  As such we are always keen to capture the energy, enthusiasm and experiences of new parents to ensure our provision stays fresh and relevant to new parenting challenges.”

The charity currently has around 40 core volunteers who help run the existing sessions and offer general support, such as fundraising, across the organisation.   The Trustees are not only keen to see the number of project volunteers expand but are also actively on the hunt for Board Members to join them to oversee the running of the charity.

Rebecca continued “Since becoming a charity we have invested in the future development of the organisation with funding from two Scottish Government backed Volunteer Support Grants.  One area we identified as a priority through this work was to attract a wider range of skills to our Board and as such we are keen to recruit new Trustees to a range of roles and we are happy to speak to anyone who may want to find out more.”

Below is a quick guide to the key projects, anyone interested in finding out more about the charity’s work, or who may be interested in volunteering please email [email protected]

 

Bump Baby and Beyond – Connecting Families Across Dumfries and Galloway

Background Information

 

Who are we?

Bump, Baby and Beyond is a parent led community group based in Dumfries and Galloway. Our mission is to develop and offer community based support and services to families, which:

 

  • Create a supportive community for all parents, which enables the development of

supportive peer relationship and friendships, and helps tackle social isolation;

  • Foster positive relationships between parent and child;
  • Support the mental and physical well-being of parents;
  • Support parents to give their children the best start in life;
  • Offer the opportunity to engage in new experiences; and build capacity in the community through volunteering;
  • Offer access to advice and expertise;
  • Directs families to other pathways of support;
  • Work in partnership with other community and statutory services;
  • Are inclusive and open to all;

Ultimately all our work is about connection.

Connecting parents to their children through play, and support with attachment and bonding; 

Connecting parents to each other through the provision of both online support and opportunities to meet;

Connecting families with their communities by directing them to sources of support, activities, and groups;

Connecting groups and service providers across the region.

Connecting parents to opportunities through a volunteering programme.

 

Background

Back in 2010 a small group of mums attending NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s breastfeeding drop-in in Dumfries, decided to pull together their resources to support the service that had brought them together and supported them in the early days of their parenting journey.  They formed under the name Mum2Mum Friends and through fundraising were able to support the NHS peer support services to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding through the purchase of books, promotional goodies for mums and through their fledgling facebook support group.  The group quickly expanded as more and more parents relied on the mum2mum facebook group for information and peer support, particularly in the middle of night!

A year down the line and more and more parents were keen to get involved and were bringing their own ideas to the group, keen to tap in to the support of other parents with similar interests.  The group then took on the role of coordinating talks on topics such as babywearing and real nappies, and recognising that it wasn’t just breastfeeding mums that were interested in finding out about these topics they set about exploring option to ensure all parents in the community could benefit from the sharing of information and support.

From this point four separately focussed projects emerged:

  • Mum2Mum Friends – continued to offer breastfeeding and early days’ support via their facebook group;
  • Dumfries Sling Library – provided babywearing advice, support and lending service
  • Dumfries Nappy Library – real nappy advice, support and learning service
  • Babes in the Woods – outdoor play for families

 

The four projects established their own volunteer groups but remained together under the umbrella name ‘Bump, Baby and Beyond’, allowing each project to develop in their own way but with the shared support and collective knowledge across the organisation.

This new umbrella organisation set out a clear core philosophy of creating supports which help children get off to the best start by meeting the needs of our families – with a single thread running through all of it … connection:

  • Connecting parents to their child;
  • Connecting parents to each other;
  • Connecting families to supports;
  • Connecting families to their community

 

As Bump, Baby and Beyond we became a Scottish Charitable Organisation with a Board of Trustees in 2014.

Since this time a range of other supports have developed:

  • Sensory craft and messy play sessions;
  • Buggy Babes walking group;
  • Postnatal Support Group – bringing new parents for cuppa, biccie and the chance to learn more about wider supports in the community;
  • Parent Chat Sessions – one off talks / awareness raising sessions for parents – first aid, childcare, messy play;
  • Parent Book Group;
  • Parent Craft Group;
  • Event Support – Baby and Toddler Tent at local festivals and events.

 

Volunteering

 

Presently we have 40 core volunteers across our Board of Trustees and Projects – plus a network of partners and friends who support our work on a more ad-hoc basis.  The majority of our volunteers are parents to young children themselves and wish to pay forward the support they received in the earliest days of parenthood.  Recognising the importance of our volunteers we have invested heavily in putting in place policies and training which creates a sustainable model of delivery.

We were successfully been awarded £10,000 in each of the last two years, from the national Volunteer Support Grant in 2015/16, which allowed us to develop our structures and offer specialist training to project leads which could be cascading to new volunteers.

 

 


 

Projects

 

Babes in the Woods

Babes in the Woods is our outdoor playgroup / forest school, which is focussed on families with children up to 8 years old.  The project was created from the idea of a parent, and in 2012 we secured access to a piece of forestry on the edge of Dumfries, for our own outdoor classroom.  Our parent led group understand that early access to outdoor play (whatever the weather!) has social, emotional, cognitive and physical benefits for children and their parents.  We also know that we live in one of the most amazing and diverse regions in the UK and are blessed with many opportunities to be outdoors.

Our vision is that all families understand the importance of outdoor play, know how to play outdoors safely and creatively, develop an appreciation for our wonderful natural heritage and understand and are able to access the opportunities for outdoor play in their own communities.

The project hosts regular meets both in our HQ and at partner sites which allow families to engage with their environment, connect with one another, and learn.  The activities include:

  • storytime,
  • discovery sessions (bug hunts / pond dipping),
  • creative sessions (making mud creatures / fat balls),
  • active engagement sessions (putting up bird boxes, planting, creating bug dens),
  • free play

 

At present we are working with a number of partners to secure the long-term use of some local woodland which would be turned in to a permanent forest school / outdoor pre-school resource – and we are currently in negotiation about the use and management of the site.  Further to this we are working with a number of partners to establish a family focussed community garden.  This site would have a particular focus on outdoor play and sensory experiences for babies and very young children, as well as being able to offer opportunities for growing and harvesting fruit and veg.  We hope to take over the site in the coming months.  www.facebook.com/outdoorplaydumfries

Mum2Mum Friends

As described above Mum2Mum Friends was our first project, and is where the ideas for all our other projects have emerged.  The group has two primary functions: to support and promote breastfeeding in our communities; and to offer a safe online space for mums across the region to access advice and support around a range of early days parenting issues, with a particular focus on breastfeeding.

In terms of breastfeeding support, many of our volunteers have completed the NHS peer support training and practice as a peer supporter alongside the advice they offer as part of our online community.  They are all enthusiastic and passionate about breastfeeding and its benefits, and as a group work together to take forward activities to raise awareness across the community.  Examples of their activities are:

  • ‘We all chose to breastfeed’ poster – which depicts normal, local mums who have breastfed and is used across nhs and community premises to promote breastfeeding;
  • Funding of promotional materials – key chains, photography within the drop-in;
  • Organising annual promotional events such as the BIG Latch On and fundraising efforts such as the Bake Off to raise money for the drugs in breastmilk helpline;
  • Campaigned for, researched and in the initial stages, helped run part of the breastpump loan scheme;
  • Contribute to expertise to the weekly NHS Babychat programme
  • Collated a booklet of breastfeeding stories – with experiences from our local mums
  • Promote NHS breastfeeding related activities across our membership
  • Produce a monthly newsletter
  • Currently engaged with NHS Dumfries and Galloway to develop a breastfeeding welcome scheme
  • Currently looking at options for training for volunteers who contribute to and monitor the mum2mum friends facebook group
  • Hosting an up to date list of local groups and family friendly activities

 

The biggest activity that Mum2Mum Friends undertakes in terms of supporting families is through their online facebook support group.  The page is limited access (not viewable by the general public) and is available to parents from Dumfries and Galloway.  With 1500 members we are Dumfries and Galloway’s largest and most active parenting forum.

Although the page started out as a safe haven for advice and support around breastfeeding it has developed into a space where local families, predominantly mums, can discuss a whole array of topics pertaining to the early stages of parenthood.   So in addition to breastfeeding mums, we now also have formula feeding parents willingly accessing the page.  This has been a very positive step in our development as it has resulted in the page being more inclusive and has also opened up the possibility of breastfeeding to those who previously hadn’t considered it.

 

Whilst we have retained our focus on breastfeeding, the page now does this in the broad context of getting all our children off to a healthy start.  Topics routinely covered on the page include sleeping, weaning, colic, reflux, nappy rash, allergies, postnatal depression, sleep deprivation and growth spurts.  We are careful to ensure that parents are always directed to formal sources of support and keep a list of key contacts available for those requiring additional support.  However, most of the time the parents simply need re-assurance that what they are experiencing is normal and that other mums out there have experience the same … and survived!

 

We have also invested in training for volunteers with specialist input from a local breastfeeding consultant.

 

 

 

Dumfries Sling Library

 

Although Dumfries Sling Library was only formally constituted as an independent project in 2013, sling lending and babywearing advice has been a core part of the support available through mum2mum friends at the NHS Drop-In for a number of years.

 

Babywearing has huge benefits for parents and carers.  It helps foster good attachment and bonding between carer and child; it can calm children and make them feel secure; it can improve sleep and reduce the symptoms of colic and reflux; and it is very practical, as you get use of your hands back!

 

The library was set up in response to the growing interest in babywearing and its benefits and the desire for people to try before they buy.  The library initially had a limited stock of donated slings but following some very successful fundraising the volunteers managed to raise enough to buy some additional slings for the collection and to bring the UK School of Babywearing to the region for the first time.  This resulted in the training of 10 of their own peer supporters; and the subsidising of 6 parents from groups outwith Dumfries, and another Dumfries based mum who subsequently set up her own library.

 

Since then the library has grown from strength to strength.  Having set an initial target of 12 hires in their first year, the did 50 in less than 6 months and are now delivering 3 sling meets a month.  More excitingly we have funded further training allowing another 15 peer supporters to be trained and two of these Mirka Soukapova and Ami Aindow have undertaken further intensive specialist training to become qualified babywearing consultants.

 

Through the meets the peer supporters:

 

  • convey the benefits of babywearing;
  • promote positive attachment;
  • demonstrate the different types of slings;
  • give advice about correct fitting and positioning;
  • offer a borrowing service;
  • share advice with one another;
  • share information about offers, discounts and competitions

 

Although the main library charge a small fee for hire it is only there to cover insurance and reinvest in stock.  However, there is absolutely no pressure to hire and meets are run largely for information and support – and anyone is free to pop along and try.  Recognising that any form of charging could be off-putting and discriminatory the library started running their free newborn stretchy hire project in 2015.  This project aims to break down any barriers to accessing support by offering free hire to all babies under 4 months.  In addition to opening up access to parts of the community who may not have been able to support a hire, it also gives the wider population the opportunity to try before they buy and we can see it is opening up babywearing to a much wider range of families than previously.  Although we offer the scheme at all meets we also run a free hire specific meet which allows new parents to meet and chat, as well as try the slings.

 

For more information, please see:

Our facebook page:  www.facebook.com/dumfriesslinglibrary

Our new website:     http://dumfriessling.wix.com/dumfriesslinglibrary

 

Dumfries Sling Library

 

Working to a similar model as the sling library, the nappy library offers the chance to find out more about cloth nappies and the practical and environment advantages of this.

 

www.facebook.com/dumfriesnappylibrary