Local mums are campaigning to save the award-winning Barnet Breastfeeding Support Service, which is under threat of closure this April by the council. They will be protesting at the Hope Corner Community Centre 10:30am - 12:30pm on 18 January.
The comprehensive breastfeeding support service offers one-to-one support for mothers at groups in Barnet every day of the week and through home visits, phone and email support. There is a small team of highly trained breastfeeding peer supporters who provide emotional and practical help for new mums.
The service has helped 1500 mums to breastfeed since it opened in 2014, and in 2016 it won the NHS Trust’s “Team of the Year” award.
An online petition started by local mum Natalie Wilson has already attracted 1365 signatures https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-barnet-breastfeeding-support-service, with many mums saying they would have given up breastfeeding without the help provided by the service.
What local mums say about the service
“Without their support I would never have been able to breastfeed my premature twins” - Jennifer B.
“Without this service I would have given up trying to breastfeed. Cutting it will have a negative effect on breastfeeding rates locally and also a significant effect on the mental health of new mothers desperately trying to breastfeed their babies.”- Vivien L.
“This will be a huge loss to families in the borough and it’s a very short-sighted decision by Barnet Council. Healthcare professionals do not have time to support new mothers in the way peer supporters can. Breastfeeding support is becoming a postcode lottery, and the council will depriving its residents of this valuable service where mothers in other boroughs have the opportunity to access support.” - Crystal M.
“Barnet breastfeeding support helped to diagnose my baby's tongue tie and were able to visit me at home when I wasn't up to getting out and about yet. A brilliant and much needed service!”- Ilana W.
The UK has among the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, and Public Health England has emphasised the importance of peer support in helping to raise rates. Unicef UK say the NHS would save millions of pounds if more babies were breastfed as they get ill less often and are less likely to visit the GP or go into hospital.
Yet Barnet Council have said that they are closing the service in order to save money. They have not said what will replace the service and there has been no public consultation about the proposed cut. The consultation on the proposed council budget says there will be no cuts to spending on public health, which includes breastfeeding.
When: Thursday 18 January 10:30 - 12:30
Where: Hope Corner Community Centre, 185 Mays Lane, EN5 2DY