By Shereen Fisher, CEO
The start of a new year is often filled with feelings of opportunity, optimism and excitement for what the new year will hold. Although times are still uncertain as we enter 2022, here at the Breastfeeding Network (BfN), the new year gives us a chance to look ahead and focus on helping even more families with their infant feeding journey.
We already have lots of exciting things planned for 2022 but our recent strategy meeting with the BfN Directors is helping us think and plan about priorities for the future.
There are quite a few things coming down the track that we would like to tell you more about, we are:
- re-designing and developing a new BfN website. This will ensure it is easy to navigate, with the most visited information visible first, technologically up-to-date and fit for purpose moving into the future.
- mid-way through an external evaluation of the National Breastfeeding Helpline, working with academics from UCLAN – thank you to all the NBH volunteers and volunteers on the language lines who are supporting the field work.
- rolling out a newly-developed course for professionals more widely this year, a course that focuses on doulas, midwives, health visitors and other health professionals – it is endorsed by OCN.
- launching a package of training specifically for GPs, with more information announced later in 2022.
- revamping our ‘Friends of BfN’ and ‘Friends of Drugs in Breastmilk’ schemes with more membership options, benefits and involvement.
- looking to build capacity within the Drugs in Breastmilk Service – which has now transitioned to volunteer pharmacists – by running another dedicated training course.
- hosting another Annual Conference later on in 2022 for our peer supporters and partners, to celebrate our work and all the volunteering that makes such a difference to families.
- delivering against the promise of our inclusion and diversity action plan, now updated with learning from the equality and inclusion survey – to roll out dedicated supervision plans to volunteers.
- using the learning from the supervision survey to bring in a number of changes in discussion with supervisors and the board, to improve the supervision environment within BfN.
- setting up a BfN expert panel to help oversee information development guided by an information policy.
At the end of last year, we launched a new peer group service in Shropshire which will continue to grow this year and we are looking forward to delivering a peer support service in Southampton from April 2022. We are also looking at other areas where groups could be facilitated or commissioned by health trusts – if you are interested in working with BfN in your NHS trust then please do get in touch!
We are also very pleased to welcome Hester Schofield as the new National Breastfeeding Helpline Manager and Tahira Tabbasum, Finance Officer (maternity cover).
Of course we will be continuing all of our usual activities:
- Peer support groups continue to run in a variety of ways, from face to face groups, 1-1 support, walking groups, online groups and messaging services. There are a number of locations throughout the UK with groups available; a great place to get support, ask questions, meet new friends and feel part of a community.
- The National Breastfeeding Helpline is open every day to provide support and information to anyone needing assistance with infant feeding.
- Our Drugs in Breastmilk service is still hugely popular and will be continuing its vital work providing information via social media support and email. We are often updating our drug factsheets when new or relevant information is published and we regularly update our coronavirus page with any recent developments.
- We continue regular training sessions for professionals, peer supporters and volunteers who work with BfN in supporting new parents and families with infant feeding.
- Supporting and developing relationships both local and national with Government, Public Health and third sector to ensure we can work as collaboratively as possible to strengthen the outcomes of babies.
In 2022, we aim to continue going from strength to strength as we support all parents, families, health professionals and key partners.