To run a weekly breastfeeding drop-in for families and their babies in Cambridge

A woman holds and smiles at her newborn

Rachel O’Leary tells us how her Community Award will help to ensure that Cambridge Breastfeeding Alliance can continue its vital work with maternal and infant health.

I have had a long involvement with Cambridge Breastfeeding Alliance, and actually founded the group with my colleague Maddie Mahon in 2007. Based in the town’s Homerton Children’s Centre, we provide free, emergency breastfeeding support to mothers in the local area.

Breastfeeding mothers often need help quickly and face-to-face if feeding hurts or the baby is not getting enough milk. Our sessions offer one-to-one support to mothers from trained and qualified Breastfeeding Counsellors and volunteers. Our aim is to boost the duration of breastfeeding, with all its normal health benefits, and reduce post-partum depression by empowering mothers to succeed.

Mothers can make friends in the group, stopping them feeling isolated and growing their own network of friends in the community.

The drop-in sessions have always been funded by the Children’s Centre, but in September 2014 our funding was cut. When I heard about the Foundation, it seemed like the lifeline we needed to protect the future of the project.

The Community Award from the Foundation will enable us to hold 21 once-a-week sessions, staffed by a team of breastfeeding counsellors and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Each of the planned sessions will provide in-depth help to an average of eight families, and the award will pay for everything we need to keep the service entirely free, from refreshments and literature, to room hire. We will also be able to offer information packs and accurate information, which are tailored to each individual need.

The Community Award means that the group is secure for another six months, and that our volunteers will be able to continue their vital community work.

The award will be a huge help in enabling us to apply for charitable status from Charity Commission, which will in turn enable us to access far more sources of funding and secure the future of the group.