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Community Corner

Shine PND Support (Gloucestershire) - our regular spotlight on a grassroots VCSE organisation in the perinatal mental health sector

Lauraine Chessman from Shine receiving a British Citizen award from two smartly dressed gentlemen

What is the name of your organisation and when did you set up?

I set up Shine PND Support 7 years ago, it started very small and has now grown and spread!

What prompted you to set up in the first place?

Following the birth of my daughter Eliza (who is now 14!) I was suddenly and from nowhere struck down with severe postnatal depression and anxiety… Eliza was 6 weeks old when this strange and crippling feeling landed on me like a tonne of bricks… my first taste of the demon that is anxiety. To cut a long story short (my story of recovery is on our website!) when I was finally feeling strong enough I knew I needed to set up some form of support for new Mums on that same difficult road, offering them some of the life saving tools I learnt on mine, as well as the opportunity to meet and share with each other. I felt so alone in my illness, believing that every other new Mum was fine except me… of course it wasn’t true.

Where are you based?

We are based in Cirencester, Dursley, Fairford and Swindon.

What services do you offer and who do you support?

We support new Mums with maternal mental illness, referred by health professionals as well as self-referrals. We offer 12 week courses focussing on creative therapy, but also including nutrition advice, yoga and pilates tasters and wellbeing workshops. Creativity is an incredible distraction into mindfulness, and the art we produce with the help of local craftsmen and artists fills mums with pride and works with self confidence and reconnection with the self. We have a wonderful creche ensuring that Mums do get that crucial time for self care, sharing and building supportive friendships. Working in this holistic way means that Mums can really find what works for them enabling them to move forward in a positive recovery. Mums are empowered to help themselves, as well as each other, and the feelings of strength and regained happiness ripples through to their babies and families.

What do you find most rewarding about running your service?

The most amazing feeling is introducing Mums to each other… I can literally feel the comfort and relief emanating from them when they realise they are not alone in this. Of course it’s also wonderful watching Mums get stronger as the weeks go by, and with our Shine drop-ins, I get to see Mums well into their feeling much better and often stronger and happier than ever before!

How might it be helpful to you and your organisation to come together as a wider VCS perinatal mental health community & work more closely?

I think it would be amazing to add in all those other pathways to offer Mums … groups who support with loss, groups who support with trauma, or attachment …. To know about all the other support out there would be so helpful for Mums as they are on that journey of recovery. Also I often have a Mum contact me from another part of the country having found our website, so to know exactly who to refer her to would be such an important part of early intervention for her.

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice when starting-up, what would it be?

Don’t worry if it takes a while to get going, to be heard and understood.

If money and resources were no issue and you could wave a magic wand and change any part of your service - what would you change and why?

I would love to not just be shining here, but shining all over the country!

If you could give all parents a super-power what would that be and why?

The power to not need more than 2 hours sleep per night! Sleep deprivation is torture and has a huge impact on mental wellbeing. I think so many Mums stress levels are high due to lack of sleep and the time for the brain to heal and process overnight.

Anything you’d like to tell us about your service or organisation? Any recent wins or things to celebrate?

We are, as of a year ago, a registered charity! This has enabled us to access larger amounts of funding! We recently won a bid with Big Lottery Community Fund for £72,000 over 3 years for our two Cirencester based Shines!


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