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Emma Sykes, Mums Meet Up: Five things I would change about Jersey

Emma Sykes, Mums Meet Up: Five things I would change about Jersey

Friday 17 January 2020

Emma Sykes, Mums Meet Up: Five things I would change about Jersey


She's the 33-year-old first-time parent behind a new meeting group aimed at combating loneliness among new mums.

'Jersey Mums Meet Up' seeks to encourages local mums to get out and about more, share their experiences and build their confidence of breastfeeding in public.

But now the supportive parenting group's founder, Emma Sykes, is turning her attention to how she would help make life better for the island as a whole.

She shared five ideas with Express...

1. 'Breast is best' ambassadors

I would love to see more breastfeeding support offered in the island. I’m very lucky that we had a very good experience right from the start with breastfeeding, but I know so many women struggle and that’s such a shame. We have an excellent midwifery service here, but, like many of our core services, they are stretched and don’t always have time to spend helping mums learn how to breastfeed.

breastfeeding

Pictured: Emma would like to see a support worker offer breastfeeding advice to new parents.

It’s such a shame that the States didn’t support the request by Deputy Louise Doublet for funding to provide an Infant Feeding Lead and two peer support workers within the Maternity Department. I think it was such a fantastic idea and would have helped so many mums and babies.

Breastfeeding is not an innate skill - both mum and baby have to learn how to get it right, and it can be hard to take in all the advice if you are exhausted, in pain, shocked and emotional after giving birth! Having a properly qualified support worker on hand to be able give the time to mums (and partners) to show them on a practical level how to breastfeed means that so many more mums would be leaving maternity feeling confident and happy, which is not only an investment in the future of their babies, but also for a mother’s emotional and mental wellbeing.

I hope that this proposal will be reconsidered in the future because I really feel that it could make such a difference. 

2. Donate and you might just save a life

I would love to see more people donating blood on the Island. I came very close to needing a transfusion when my daughter was born. Thankfully it didn’t come to that but if I had needed one, where would I be if kind people didn’t donate?

I used to donate for a number of years but unfortunately had to stop for medical reasons, but if I could go back to donating in the future, I definitely would!

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Pictured: "It can bring comfort knowing that out of sadness and loss, some good could come - by giving someone else a chance at life."

You just never know who might need that blood you give - you might just save a life. I also think it’s wonderful that we are now opt-out rather than opt-in for organ donation. I’ve been registered as an organ donor for years (as well as being on the register for Anthony Nolan since my teens) - to me it’s an no brainer!

If you or a loved one needed a transplant, you would jump at the chance to have one without a second thought, so why shouldn’t you also be a donor? Whilst no one wants to think of something happening to them or a loved one in that way, I think it can bring comfort knowing that out of sadness and loss, some good could come - by giving someone else a chance at life.

3. No excuses... volunteer!

I’ve never formally volunteered in the community but I like to think that my mum and baby group is benefiting others in some small way, by helping new mums fight isolation, bringing them together for friendship and support, which is so important for a mother’s mental health in those first crucial months.

There is a great local website which now makes volunteering really easy: Volunteer.je allows you to sign up for volunteering based on your skills and interests, and then matches you with a suitable volunteer role.

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Pictured: Emma would love to create a scheme bringing the old and young generations together.

We live in a very ‘time poor’ society now days, and often have the excuse of, ‘I don’t have the time' - something I’m guilty of myself. Some of the roles aren’t asking for much - sometimes charities just need help with DIY, giving people lifts or delivering food hampers and you can give as much or as little time as you can spare. If everyone could spare just a little bit of their time now and then it could really make a difference to those in need. 

I’d love to try and incorporate volunteering alongside my daughter as well - I’ve heard of schemes in the UK where babies visit care homes for people living with dementia, which has a proven benefit to their wellbeing and mental health. I’d love to set something up like that with other mums locally.

4. More parent and baby parking... in fact, more parking in general! 

I find this is common complaint from lots of mums I speak to - just not enough parking and spaces not big enough. I was quite surprised to learn that there are only 16 parent and baby spaces available across town, and finding an empty one when you need it is about as rare as unicorn poo!

Recently, I had to take my daughter for an appointment in the middle of the morning. After trying three different car parks with no spaces at all (not just parent and baby), I finally found one in the fourth car park I tried. Due to the narrowness of the space, I had to reverse in, so I had to carry the pram over my head whilst I squeezed between two cars! Mine is not a unique experience - lots of mums I know have similar experiences in our car parks. 

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Pictured: More parking would make life easier for parents, as well as for islanders to support local businesses, according to Emma.

I know that we have to be so careful of our carbon footprint and I used to take the bus where I could previously, but sometimes it’s just not practical with a small baby and all the associated paraphernalia - sometimes you need to make a hasty exit (anyone who has experienced a sick or poo explosion will know what I mean!) and you can’t wait around for half an hour for the next bus!

The States want us to buy local and support our high street, which I thoroughly support, but I try to avoid town unless I need to go in for something specific, because parking is quite a stressful experience now. There is no easy answer- we are stuck with the car parks we have for now but if any new car parks are built then bigger spaces need to be looked at. 

5. All aboard the night bus!

More of a light-hearted one, but I would love to see a night bus on a Friday and Saturday nights!

I think back to my university days when the night ended with a trip on the night bus to get back to halls. It only cost a pound and everyone used to pile on with their takeaway cheesy chips! I don’t remember there ever being any trouble on the buses (I just remember it being loads of fun!) and it used to clear the city centre really quickly. 

liberty_bus.JPG

Pictured: A night bus would provide revellers with a safe journey home, while also alleviating taxi queues.

Imagine if there was something similar here - it could operate on a circular route with one bus going East and one going West. It would reduce the waiting times at the taxi ranks and would get town clear faster. Taxis can be expensive, especially for younger people/students, so a night bus route could improve safety by deterring people taking risks with lift sharing or walking home in the dead of night. 

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author, and not of Bailiwick Express.

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