By Andy Hirst
A support group for new parents in Huddersfield wants to recreate the kind of services that used to be available at Sure Start Centres.
The Beautiful Nurture playgroup and support group runs in Golcar every Friday and was set up after its leader, Lily Hamilton, felt new parents were badly isolated during the pandemic. Her daughter, Tilly, was born four months before the first lockdown in March 2020.
So Lily has set it up as a playgroup combined with a support group at Golcar Providence Church on Scar Lane, Golcar, every Friday from 9.30am to 12.30pm.
She said: “I decided on the name beautiful nurture as the journey into new parenthood is a beautiful thing and a time when new parents and baby should be supported and nurtured.”
The group already includes free baby weighing and breastfeeding advice but Lily believes it can do more.
She wants to provide the kind of services that were available in Sure Start centres which were set up across the UK just over 20 years ago to give help and advice about child and family health and parenting. Many have since closed due to funding cuts.
Lily, an early years educator from Slaithwaite, said: “I really feel that parents and new mothers were forgotten during the pandemic with post-natal support services put on hold yet life and the struggles of new parenthood were still going on.
“It saddened me to hear so many stories of women not being able to breastfeed their children due to the lack of support, women going months if not years now without any help with post-natal depression.
“It was during the first lockdown that I realised just how important it was for new parents to build a support network and have access to much needed help. My idea was to set up a play and support group for parents with young children.”
The aim was to start in November 2020 but was delayed due to further Covid restrictions and lockdowns so Beautiful Nurture eventually opened in Golcar in April 2021.
It can be busy – sometimes the sessions have 40 families attending – which shows the need is there. People travel from as far as Holmfirth … and even Wakefield.
Lily, who is a trained breastfeeding and baby massage advisor, said: “It would be great to see these kinds of groups being set up across the country.
“New parents really do need this kind of support – somewhere to meet and have a chat with one another but also somewhere which can give workshops and advice on anything from breastfeeding to post-natal mental health.
“It’s absolutely crucial that new mums get support for their mental health. If mum is happy and feels she can cope then that’s the best environment for her baby to thrive.
“The aim is to team up with health visitors, early years experts and other businesses so they can join us on a Friday to offer services and workshops such as weaning advice, expert breastfeeding support, the transition to school, well-being workshops and sling libraries, creating a community hub within the Colne Valley for new parents.”
Anyone who can provide these kinds of services is urged to contact Beautiful Nurture. New parents wanting to join can also contact the group beforehand or drop in any Friday.
Lily added: “The Sure Start Centres provided these kinds of services and we’d love to see the Government bring them back but I don’t think that will happen.”
Lily is helped by her mother-in-law Janice Swallow along with volunteers Sophie Wood and Gaynor Sykes.
It costs £3.50 per family each session to cover essential costs including tea, coffee, biscuits and drinks for the children.
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting.