Mums and Families
My name is Claire Hawtree and I am the founder of Mums & Families (MAF), together with Heather Collins we are one of ten finalists in the Families Included Challenge Prize.
Four months after the birth of my daughter Isla, I suffered with postnatal depression and anxiety; I was in a bad place and was in need of peer support. I was horrified that I couldn’t find anywhere to go to speak to other people feeling how I was. Once fully recovered, I set out to provide a solution to that need: Mums & Families was born!
It is easy to feel and become isolated especially if you feel judged by your immediate peers so we provide a safe and supportive environment where women are empowered and given a chance to be open about their feelings, develop friendships with others who feel the same and be able to develop their self-confidence and self-esteem thus enabling them to be the best parent they can be.
MAF offers a 5 week, judgement free support programme for mums who are experiencing feelings of low mood, tiredness and who may be feeling overwhelmed with the challenges that being a parent can bring, who would have thought there would be so many!
Whilst there is a structure to the programme, we give women some ‘time out’ to enjoy a good chat, cuppa and sometimes a slice of cake – something that seems so simple, but when you are a mum, a hot cup of tea or coffee is usually a luxury, and one we are delighted to provide.
We forget we are all human, we all make mistakes and being a parent is one of the hardest jobs for a lot of people. We help mums to focus on themselves, it’s not easy reaching out for help, and we give women the ability to do it in their own time, working on the basis that prevention can sometimes be the cure.
Not everyone that comes to us is suffering with perinatal emotional issues, for those that do, we are able to provide additional support if required by signposting and introducing mums to other services in an unobtrusive and gentle way. Some mums that come just need an honest arena to be able to share their thoughts, feelings and fears surrounding being a parent.
The MAF programme continues to help mums and families in Essex, and we are ‘beyond excited’ to be a Families Included finalist as this will give MAF the platform to expand to other areas and become a charity thus enabling us to help more and more families not just across Essex but across the UK (my mum always told me to dream big!).
There is a traditional African proverb that says “it takes a village to raise a child”, no-one should live in isolation; we are proud that our programme gives mums and families their own little village and we can’t wait to see where our journey will take us next!