One of the priorities that Gloucestershire Maternity Voices wanted to keep a focus on this year is mental wellbeing, and ensuring this is a topic that we speak about and signpost to. At a meeting, we all agreed that it would be good to write a post on social media about where to access lots of different support, in particular financial support. We know that finances can have an impact on our mental health, so we wanted to write something to signpost people.

However, this area is huge and there are so many different support networks out there. Some which cover the whole of Gloucestershire, and some that are much more local, such as faith groups, food banks and support within schools. I started thinking about my local area and couldn’t even work out how I might list the different organisations into a coherent post, so I decided that I would try to put together a blog which starts to cover some of the options. If you read this on social media, please do add any support networks that you know of in the comments, as after some googling, I have simplified the links to these the ones below as they seem to have a lot covered.

While googling different options, I stumbled across this website from the Barnwood Trust. They have collated so much information into one space, each with links, to all the different options available to individuals and families –

Gloucestershire Community Hub also has information about grants and a page called ‘Your Circle’ which has recent posts about local community information –

Gloucestershire Bundles provide emergency packs, which could include toiletries, clothing and equipment to pregnant women and families, with children up to the age of three, who find themselves in difficult situations, you will need a referral so speak to a professional who is working with your family. Visit the Glos Bundles Facebook page.

Stroud District Kids Stuff also provide equipment, books, clothes etc to families. They have a three scale referral system, so you may need to talk to a professional or you can use their shop to purchase items at a reasonable price. Clothing is £1 an item, coats and shoes are £2.

If you are looking for information about where to get support for a mental health concern, please watch the Facebook Live Your Maternity Voices session for March, I was joined by Sophie from Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust and Lauraine from Shine, in this session we talk about different ways to look after your wellbeing, accessing support and organisations offering support.

Also here’s a bit of an update of what we’ve been doing recently –

As an MVP we are sometimes asked what we think might be needed locally, based on the feedback we get. We have had a lot of comments saying that accessing support with a new born has obviously been hard this year and now as we come out of lockdown, families find themselves in a place where they no longer meet some of the ‘criteria’ for some support. We were asked if there is anything that the MVP think could be put in place, and we suggested that the criteria for some support which is usually available for families with a new born, should be extended to older babies. This information has been taken on board and some funding is now being allocated to organisations that support families, to offer sessions for families who have babies of any age and were born during 2020 until now. When we know more about these groups, we will share information on our social media.

Last week was maternal mental health awareness week and this week is mental health awareness week, we will continue sharing posts which contain useful information. If you have any concerns about your own mental wellbeing or that of someone in your family, please do reach out. There are organisations and people who can support you, you do not have to be alone.