Charlotte Macken

Finalist’s blog #2: Mums and Families

Claire talks about why she started Mums & Families, her aims for the programme and the benefits of being a finalist in the Families Included Prize. 


There has been a lots of press recently about postnatal depression and how suicide is now the leading cause of death for women in the first year postnatally – this is a statistic that is too hard and sad for me to comprehend but one I can relate to only too easily as I was nearly one of those women.

Mums’ mental health is too important not to talk about

I’m Claire and as you probably all know by now, I am the founder of Mums and Families (M and F). I know blog entries are meant to be light hearted but because this statistic is one of the main reasons M and F and its programme was born, I felt compelled to talk about it. From what was (at the time) a sad, traumatic and lonely experience, to making a full recovery, something truly positive has been established.

Helping and empowering new mums

Here at M and F, we provide a free programme to mums and families of children aged 0 to 5 with a focus on perinatal emotional health and well being. Our course has developed and is helping and empowering women and their families to adjust to being a parent and to deal with the multitude of issues family life can bring.

We have been making good steady progress, with our fair share of challenges along the way but with Heather (and my husband Pete!) keeping me grounded and working together as an amazing team we are overcoming the obstacles that have come our way. (There are few things that can’t be solved with tea, cake and a chat – or in our case the odd glass or two of wine!).

We have had our first Mums and Families Christmas gathering and it was a roaring success; I had the most overwhelming ‘proud mama’ moment seeing how far the M and F mums had come since completing our programme. The main highlight though for me was when Peter and my little Isla who is two and a half years old (going on 15) came in to meet everyone and it made me realise in that single moment how far I had come since being so very unwell after having Isla.

Accelerated progress

Being part of this competition has been the most amazing experience and has played a significant part in giving me the ability to accelerate the plans I had for M and F and what I thought would only ever be a dream. I have a fantastic team behind me now, our website is due to go live any day and the feedback I have been getting from our mums has kept me going in the moments I have started to doubt myself (that and the metaphorical kick up the backside I get from Heather!)

All of us at M and F feel genuinely privileged to be a part of the mum’s journeys, from when they first walk into their first session, to when they ‘graduate’ and we are excited, that this is only really the beginning for what awaits us in the future.

Finally, in the words of my favourite author, Mitch Albom:

“There’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begins.”



This is one of blogs written by the Families Included Prize finalists. Click here to find out what other finalists are up to.

The Families Included Prize is the first time a challenge prize has been run by a county council in the UK. Essex County Council is working with Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, to develop and deliver this exciting new way for the Council to engage local communities, as well as discover and support great solutions.

For more information about the Families Included Prize, visit:, and follow #FamiliesIncluded on Twitter.