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Community Corner


B3 - Bumps, Birth & Belonging CIC - Our regular spotlight on a grassroots VCSE organisation in the perinatal mental health sector



A group of brown and black mums gathered together with their babies and smiling


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

The name of our organisation is B3 -Bumps, Birth and Belonging CIC and we set up in February 2023.


Where are you based?

We are based in Thurrock, Essex.


What services do you offer and who do you support?

We offer culturally relevant group and 1:1 perinatal peer support for women and families of African and Caribbean heritage. We also offer free counselling, private antenatal education, self advocacy workshops, events and a WhatsApp group.


What prompted you to set up in the first place?

B3 was created from the frustrations felt as an experienced midwife and the mother of four children who has also suffered with poor perinatal mental health.


Professionally, it feels like we have got to a place in maternity services where equality and equity have become buzz words. There is no action in actively reducing the stark health inequalities that black women face in pregnancy, birth and parenting or when it comes to supporting our mental health.


I know it's possible to have beautiful, non traumatic births - I've facilitated and had them myself. But unfortunately maternity services are in such a state that I believe I can make more changes outside the system than within. Personally, I was not listened to with my last pregnancy in 2020 and had to heavily advocate for myself and eventually change hospitals. I knew I could because of my profession - but what about those women who don't know they can change hospitals? Who don't know they have a choice?


I also suffered with PND 18 years ago and anxiety with my COVID baby both times, I wasn't asked about it, I had no idea why I felt the way I did and it was assumed that I had support because I have a big family. Something had to change


Do you run or plan to develop any services that reflect specific needs within your community?  

All of our plans and the services we run are co-produced with the community. So that services are built with them and not to them. In the future we aim to run services online and to upskill participants to become birth workers and/or mental health advocates themselves. We need more leaders in this space


What do you find most rewarding about running your organisation?   

What makes my heart full is seeing everyone talking so openly, sharing advice, laughing and relaxing. Seeing those organic interactions makes all the hard work worth it.


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

To make sure to factor in my wages from day one and block out time for myself! Don't be afraid to be fully open about the needs of the community and apply for exactly what you need. It's not sustainable otherwise.


What do you find the most challenging thing about running a PMH VCSE service at the moment?

It's incredibly difficult to obtain the funding needed to pay and train staff effectively. There is an expectation to work for free and for your staff to mostly be volunteers - there's a cost of living crisis! Everyone is feeling it, but for some reason the public sector want us to carry out work, that they know is needed, for free. Also the need is incredibly high and there are more and more increasingly vulnerable women who are outside of our remit that are getting referred to us. It's not safe and I'm having to refer back to the public sector as we can only safely support mild to moderate need.


What keeps you going when things get tough?

Knowing that with every step, every group, every 1:1, every meeting, every email, every referral, every hug, every time we raise awareness we are making a small, but mighty change for the next generation.


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

We are growing more and more every month and our mamas are feeling more and more comfortable to be open about their feelings in our safe space. We're also having a wellbeing day in March focusing on ways to reduce stress, identifying emotions, meditation, physical health, womb health and much more - it's something we're so excited to be hosting.


 

Thank you so much to Nicole Lawal for giving us this insight into B3 and all of its incredible work supporting families. You can find out lots more about B3 by visiting the website or emailing: info@b3-community.org


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