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Hug in a Box

Hug in a box

Sue Bayles and Claire Brooks

Our idea

A bespoke support scheme for parents involving a volunteer peer support worker, 8 wellbeing workshops with a crèche, wellbeing goodies, resources and materials as well an online network and blog.

Our story so far...

A Hug in a Box…..Sounds like a really nice gift to receive right? And such a simple idea….isn’t it?  We’ve all experienced those times when you just want to send a hug to someone, help them through a tough situation, share  some of your experiences but without sounding  smug or patronising or worst of all, arrogant. 

What you want to say is ‘I’ve been there’, ‘I know what you’re going through’ but it’s hard to get the right words across.  It’s especially hard when it’s a new mum you are talking to, but put yourself in that new mum’s place and those first few weeks when you are still waiting for the instruction leaflet that comes with this incredible bundle of love with a heartbeat!  That along with all the extra bonus’s that you get with your new package; hormones that are going off like fireworks – one minute you are bursting with love and joy, the next you are bursting into tears at the smallest thing, you can’t even remember what it was that started you off. That’s not the only thing you can’t remember, whatever brain you had has turned to mush, sleep is an old friend you had in the dim and distant past.  How can it be so hard?, women have been doing this for thousands of years, how come I’m the one who doesn’t know what I’m doing?

Hormones and then some!If we’re honest, all new mums can all relate to having some days when it’s all so overwhelming.  The hormonal changes that happen after having a baby can affect us all in different ways.  Social, emotional and psychological factors also play a big part.  Nearly all mums sometimes feel low, or feel that they can’t cope.  Multiply this by the difficult circumstances some women find themselves in …..Everyone is unique and their personal situation and status is as different as they are.  Post Natal Depression can be triggered by anyone of these things and can happen to anyone. Your body is making huge adjustments, you question everything you do and then you receive the gift to all mums… ‘guilt’!

No such thing as a perfect parent?
Being a mum changes everything, the nature of all your relationships, as well as how you feel about yourself.  You can start to feel isolated, spending a lot of time at home, without adult company.  It was about this time I realised there is no such thing as a perfect parent!

Admitting that you have a problem doesn’t mean that you are a bad mum, but where to go for help? How do you recognise that you need help?  What I came to realise was that the people who need the most help are probably the least likely to find it. 

My work took place in a very deprived area and I know that many of the mums in that area suffered in silence.  So, I started to think about what might help…A Hug in a Box of course!  As I said, simple! Everything that we know affects the mood of a new mum in a box, delivered by someone who really understands and helps you to get back on track. I put the idea to my colleagues at HLSCIC who work with a lot of vulnerable women, they get it!  They recognise that a small intervention like this might help some mums from spiralling into PND.

Is our idea too simple?
The idea was put forward to the Essex Challenge Prize, highly unlikely that we would be one the 10 finalists across Essex, but to everyone’s amazement we are!  The induction day came and Sue and I were full of trepidation, the same feelings of self-doubt that we are trying to help women with….’everyone else will know more than us’….’our idea is too simple’…you know the score.  BUT, what a great day, we had so much support, the team at Essex seem to have thought of everything and we were allocated our brilliant mentor Louise, full of advice and guidance.  We get to test our ideas and project with families, measure the impact and build a business case …..simple? At the end of the day we were still overwhelmed but like the Hug in a Box, we know that we have support and we know where to find it!

More about the details of the HUG IN A BOX in the next blog….I think you might be working it out now

Nine Challenge Prize finalists