Award success for Bedfordshire Breastfeeding Buddies

Award success for Bedfordshire Breastfeeding Buddies image

Home » Award success for Bedfordshire Breastfeeding Buddies

A group of caring and diligent NHS volunteers in Bedfordshire have been recognised for their vital contribution to breastfeeding support.

The Breastfeeding Buddies from Bedfordshire Community Health Services (part of Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust) are regional winners for the Volunteer Award category in the NHS Parliamentary Awards, for the support they give in Baby Brasseries, which are groups based in children’s centres in Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire. They were nominated by Mohammed Yasin MP and Richard Fuller MP and shortlisted to go forward to the national judging panel, with national winners being announced at an award ceremony on 5 July 2023.

The Buddies are all parents who have breastfed/chestfed their own children, and this is key to the 10 year-old programme’s success, as parents welcome the support that comes from a peer who has their own personal experience of infant feeding. Volunteers have time to listen to a parent talk about their experiences, and Buddies are trained in active listening and communication skills, meaning that they are able to be non-judgemental and empathetic when supporting parents. Baby Brasseries are inclusive groups which can be accessed without referral and offer support to expectant parents and nursing parents throughout their journey, no matter how long or short.

Karen Fell, volunteer lead at Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, said:

“I’m delighted that our volunteers have been shortlisted for the national Volunteer Award. It recognises both past and present Buddies, with immense gratitude for their contribution.”

Sarah Pickford, baby friendly lead at Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, said:

“We are over the moon that we have been recognised for this award and are excited to go to the national awards next month.

“By offering easily accessible infant feeding support, the Bedfordshire Breastfeeding Buddies complement the support that the 0-19 team and children’s centre teams offer to families.”

Dr Sanhita Chakrabarti, deputy medical director and clinical lead for children’s and maternity services at Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board, said:

“I’m delighted to see this service and its wonderful team of volunteers coming to wider attention.  They make a big difference to local parents and children, and I wish them every success when they come before the national judging panel.

With a sustainable rolling programme of recruitment and training in place, the longevity of the programme is assured. It is also no stranger to being recognised for its key contribution. Bedfordshire Community Health Services were the first service in the East of England to achieve the Unicef Gold Award for Baby Friendly Accreditation (in 2020). This is the highest level of Unicef Baby Friendly accreditation and celebrates excellent and sustained practice in the support of infant feeding and parent-infant relationships.

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