New Norwich group offers help to young mums
By Sandie Shirley
2009: A long-held vision to help young, struggling mums and pregnant mums was officially launched at Norwich’s Forum on Saturday December 12 by founder and grandmother Janet Brenkley.
Volunteers and supporters of Olive Leaf - New Mums 2B were out in force outside the city’s library for the all-day event that included a guest appearance from Norwich North MP Chloe Smith. Posters, giveaways and information - aimed at 16-25 year olds - helped highlight the new support sessions that begin in Hellesdon and Heartsease in January 2010.
The charity is geared for today’s culture. It will boast parenting courses, counselling, baby massage, mum’s pampering sessions, social outings and advice on nutrition, education and social benefits. It comes in the wake of a successful pilot scheme that has already helped many youngsters on the new road to parenting. They include teenagers Gabrielle and Sean Denniston who were recently married and housed with their eight-month-old son, Leo.
Olive Leaf calls on the help of volunteers and professionals who are experienced mothers. The charity, with a strong Christian ethos, aims to provide a light through the darkness.
It networks with agencies and authorities, including Broadland District Council, Broadland Community Partnership
and the Norwich Family Life Centre
. Together they help meet the needs of young mothers and expectant mums whether they are homeless, unemployed, fighting addiction, without parental support or just wanting a helping hand.
“Their needs may include wanting to bid-on-line for housing, a listening ear, having questions answered, joining a course or meeting new friends,” says Janet, a qualified lecturer.
“Being a first time mother is difficult, sometimes lonely and a bit of a worry when you want to do the right things for your baby. It is not always easy and many mums often say: ‘I was not sure what to do or where to go’ so we began this new group.
“A mum is amazing she takes on many roles with added responsibility for nurturing and looking after her baby’s soul. We are offering support so they can be a happy, confident, caring parent,” says Janet.
The scheme has got the thumbs up from local MP Chloe Smith: “This comes from people’s hearts; people like Janet who have got the get up and go and who will, I am sure, be the bedrock for a lot of young mums in the area. I am 100 per cent behind the scheme as her local MP and will continue to lend my support and help.”
Weekly sessions for pregnant mums or mums with babies aged 0-12 months will begin on January 7 and 8. They are at: NFLC, Heartsease Lane - opposite the Academy (Thursdays 12.30pm - 2.30pm) and Hellesdon Community Centre (Mondays and Fridays 12noon - 2.00pm)
Pictured above are the Olive Leaf team with Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and Olive Leaf mum Gabrielle and her baby Leo with group founder and project co-ordinator Janet Brenkley.