If you’ve had a baby in the past 20 years in Perth, then the chances are that you know all about the wonderful people at NCT. A powerhouse of largely female volunteers (Dads are very welcome!) this amazing group of women, led by branch coordinator Rachel Will, do everything from supporting pregnant mums, to getting parents through that all important first 1000 days, and organising the area’s largest Nearly New Sale.
Nothing out of the ordinary there then; however, these women have taken things one step further, breaking down the stereotype of traditional 'Mum & Baby' groups, and creating something altogether more modern.
Gone are dusty church halls with three cracked toys and some soft biscuits, and in its place are groups that meet in the pub, run events for kids up to age 5, administer Facebook Support Groups and manage a volunteer team that is fun, friendly and supportive! So much so in fact, that they have led the Perth branch to award-winning status.
In March 2019, NCT Perth was named Volunteer Team of the Year at the national NCT Stars Awards in Leicester, which recognise and celebrate the achievements, hard work and dedication of the charity’s volunteers, practitioners and staff.
Winning was no mean feat; there are now around 350 NCT groups and 5000 volunteers across the UK providing services and supporting parents at one of the most crucial times in their lives.
The central charity - National Childbirth Trust - has been on the go since 1956, and has supported millions of women and parents through birth and early parenthood, all whilst securing major advances in professional practice and public policy. Their vision is of a world in which no parent is isolated and all parents are supported to build a strong society.
Start at the beginning, the first 1000 days programme is run by all NCT groups across the UK and aims to provide the best possible experience of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood.
They do this through three interconnected aims:
It's easy to see then, why this award in particular meant so much to the Perth Team. It highlights a volunteer team that has gone above and beyond expectations to expand local services and extend the support provided to new and expectant parents.
Juliet Mountford, Executive Director of Parent Services at NCT had this to say about the Perth group:
“This is a fantastic branch team that runs parent and child groups, mums’ nights out and taster sessions in addition to Baby First Aid courses, with antenatal courses due to start later this year. The Nearly New Sales have been particularly successful, helping many local parents manage the costs of having a baby.
“The Perth branch has shown rapid growth and demonstrated massive effort and commitment to provide local services for new parents. It has more than doubled its volunteers in the past year and is making a real difference to mums and dads to be in the area.”
The Perth branch has shown rapid growth and demonstrated massive effort and commitment to provide local services for new parents. It has more than doubled its volunteers in the past year and is making a real difference to mums and dads to be in the areaThis ‘rapid growth’ started in 2015, when current branch coordinator, Rachel Will, joined up. Her second child was just 6 weeks old at the time, and she had turned up to a Nearly New Sale thinking she was going to help on the tills, or something similar. When she heard that the branch was in danger of closing down due to lack of volunteers, she stepped up. Since then she has led the current volunteer team to deliver the huge array of services that it offers today.
At the time of Rachel starting there were regular Nearly New Sales but no other branch activities. She rounded up another 3 or 4 volunteers who were all committed to ensuring parents in the area received the support and friendship group that makes a huge difference when a new baby arrives.
Since then, the team has grown to around 80 volunteers who give their time to support parents in all sorts of ways! We caught up with Vicki Anyon, volunteer since 2017 who told us a bit more.
“I joined NCT Perth as a volunteer in August 2017 when my second child was 6 months old, although I'd been a participant for longer. I first attended Bumps@ThePub with my second pregnancy and then moved on to Bumps and Babies when he was born in February 2017.
"Volunteering has been a truly rewarding experience. I’m not from Perth so I didn’t have that network of school friends all having babies at the same time as me. NCT was a lifeline for me.
Vicki continued, "The Nearly New Sale has been going for a number of years and is always hugely popular – you’ll see queues coming out of Bell’s Sports Centre doors and round the car park anytime it’s on!
"The group wanted to do more though – make a social connection with all of these parents, and so in 2016 it was decided that it would be great to have some groups to support pregnant mums and those with young babies up to 12 months.
"As mums ourselves we could see there was a real gap in support once baby arrived and the antenatal classes had passed. The irony, of course, is that meeting new people is tricky when you have a baby to care for! But we firmly believe that the best support a parent can get is from another parent; people who are going through the same experience and the same challenges.
"And so Bumps@ThePub and Bumps & Babies were born. Since then we’ve had hundreds of parents meet each other through our groups and it really is special for us volunteers to see what a difference good friendships make to people’s parenting experience. Parenting is never easy and everyone’s experiences will be different but it feels like a lifeline knowing you can message a group of mum friends in the middle of the night safe in the knowledge that at least one of them will be up with an awake child!”
It feels like a lifeline knowing you can message a group of mum friends in the middle of the night safe in the knowledge that at least one of them will be up with an awake child!Bouyed by the success of their first venture outwith the usual formats, the Perth team continued to develop their network and have grown into an organised support service for parents right up until wee ones head off to school at age 5.
NCTeenies – since 2017. This group is for parents of children up to age 5 and is especially great if you have two children under 5 as they cater for babies as well as toddlers. The volunteer team love coming up with creative crafts for each week and new families are always welcomed. Find out more >>>
Twins and Multiples group – since 2018. This group offers support to parents of twins, triplets and more, a family situation that brings its own unique challenges. The volunteer team is run by ‘twin mums’ who know just what to do to support in the best way!
Baby and Child First Aid courses with the British Red Cross . These have been happening for many years, and continue to be really popular with parents, and those who regularly look after children. Courses last 2.5 hours and are filled with lots of practical advice.
Nearly New Sales – for pre-loved baby and child items up to age 10. These have grown to be one of the area’s most popular events, and such is the success that it now has its own dedicated team! The sales are very different from traditional table top sales - volunteers sort and sell the items on behalf of sellers and organise them into easy to find categories to make it easy for buyers to find exactly what they are looking for. These sales need a lot of volunteers to make sure it runs smoothly so new volunteers are always welcome! Next one is Sunday 28th April - More >>>
Rachel Will has summed up an incredible start to 2019: “This has been a fantastic year – winning the award was an incredible achievement for all of our volunteers. Our team love what we do and are so proud to be able to support local parents through all of our activities.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for NCT or finding out about activities and events in their area can contact the local NCT branch via NCT’s website or call NCT’s enquiries line on 0300 330 0770.
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