Mums4Mums Alexandra: “It takes a village to build a village”

Mums4Mums Alexandra was born from the desire to create a community, a village for mums in our area. WellSouth had held a peer supporter training course. We had a group of Mums, volunteers with skills to help others, so we thought, what next?

Since February 2017, Mums4Mums has met twice nearly every month, as well as providing support via our Facebook page. Right from the start we were meeting a need - now, sometimes only a handful of Mums make it, but sometimes we support over 20 Mums with their babies and toddlers.
Every new parent is welcomed - first time Mums, those with toddlers and newborns in tow, breastfeeders, bottle feeders, locals and those new to the area. They are welcomed into a wonderful child friendly space at the Baptist Church on Gregg Street. There’s comfy couches, smiling welcoming faces and an opportunity to connect.

We discovered early on that while new parenthood can be an isolating time for every new parent, our area was, and continues to be, home to many young families who arrive here with babies, young children or a baby on the way, without a support network, their own families in other parts of the country, or overseas, friends left behind in the move here.

As our group grew, our need for another sort of volunteer emerged. The hunt for our ‘Nanas’ began. Like our peer supporters some came via Volunteer South, others are shoulder tapped. Many of these women who are Nanas to their own mokopuna in other parts add another wonderful dynamic to our group. Often volunteering because they remember what it was to be a new parent without support, they are there to hold babies, play with toddlers and make sure the Mums get a hot cuppa and morning tea. This allows our peer supporters to talk through what’s brought them through the door, which might be anything from a parenting struggle, to loneliness, or simply a change of scene.

For all the volunteers, it’s a joy to see these Mums flourish, as they grow in confidence, trust their instincts and create their own friendship groups which go beyond the Mums4Mums sessions. But it’s not a one way street - volunteering also gives you a place in this community, brings you a group of women who will hold you up when you have your own struggles.

Our volunteers have come and gone over time. Our original Mums are moving on to the next stage in their families’ lives. Those volunteer roles have then been picked up by women who originally came to the group for support. They’ve completed peer supporter training, and now give support.

It takes a village to build a village for our young families. WellSouth trains and supports volunteer peer supporters. Mums4Mums is facilitated and co-ordinated by volunteer Peer Supporters, supported by our volunteer Nanas. Central Lakes Breastfeeding Charitable Trust takes care of the admin and funding that make this group possible.

There is so much joy in giving your time to others, and you can read more about how you can help here:

Written for Volunteer South by Jo O'Connor