I am Claire Hawtree and am the proud Founder of Mums & Families UK. With a lot of hard work from myself and the amazing team of people around me, we have a growing organisation that is helping more and more families, but where we are today we owe very much to winning the Families Included Challenge Prize.
The past 18 months have been fantastic – we have now reached our goal of helping at least 100 families by providing our programme in two geographical locations. We are having conversations and meetings with a view to partnering with other organisations so that we can help more families and are currently looking to expand to offering our programme in Chelmsford and in the Southend/Leigh-on-Sea areas too, as well as beginning to look at developing programmes for dads, grandparents, and other carers so we can help the wider family.
In addition, we have recently agreed on a referral scheme with One Fit Mama Essex, helping to support mums physical health as well as their mental health, this is just the start of an inter-service network/pathway that we want to create.
The success we have had hasn’t come without its challenges, a lot of which have been down to personal circumstances. In November 2017 I gave birth to my beautiful son (my second child). This meant that I had to take a complete step back from the organisation leaving it in the team’s very capable hands whilst I focussed on my family. After some months of adjustment and the fantastic work of the team while I was away, I was able to get back into running it all again.
Whilst we are very lucky and humbled to have mums volunteering for us, it has also been challenging to gain the level of commitment we need as an organisation to deliver the amount of services we would like to; speaking from personal experience, as passionate as I and the mums we have working with us are, of course our own families do have to come first.
That being said, we have been delivering the programme in Rochford and in Rayleigh and have partnered with the MegaCentre whereby we are able to provide a free drop in service for mums, dads and families alike which has been very beneficial to the community. I have had a number of opportunities to boost the profile of Mums & Families UK, speaking as a representative, I have been a featured caller on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff and have also been invited to appear on BBC Radio Essex a couple of times too. All of which helps to give Mums & Families UK more credibility, the cornerstone of which was provided when we won the Challenge Prize.
We are now in a crucial part of our journey as we are applying to become a Charity Incorporated Organisation together with putting in place the necessary trademarks and patents to protect our hard work and ideas.
I set up the organisation in February 2016 and together with the amazing team I have beside me, being where we are now and looking at what our future as an organisation holds is a dream come true, both personally and professionally, and we wish all the finalists luck in this exciting new challenge. Being part of the first Challenge prize has changed my life and has enabled us as an organisation to change and save lives and that is the biggest accolade this amazing initiative can possibly have.