Volunteering for Winchester National Childbirth Trust - Why Not Join?

Catherine Defty of @tactiletots shares with us her role as Chair of the Winchester branch of the National Childbirth Trust and the importance of volunteers.

National Childbirth Trust

When I tell people that as well as being a mum, sharing childcare with another mum and running my own business, that I am also chair of the Winchester and district branch of the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) they look at me like I am more than a little mad and question how on earth I find the time to fit in volunteering.

Well the simple answer is “I just do” and for these two reasons; one the NCT is a charity very close to my heart and two the personal benefits I get from volunteering are well worth the time investment.

Am I some virtuous do gooder? Certainly not, I don’t do my NCT work out of some selfless act, in truth I do it because I really enjoy the community it creates and have found it gave me a sense of purpose during my maternity leave when I was trying to figure out who I was after becoming a mother. I also miss the professional world I left after having a baby and chairing a meeting with an agenda makes me remember I can do more than think about how to get poo stains off vests (soak in Milton btw but that’s a whole other blog!).

If you don’t know what the NCT is and many people don’t, then let me explain a little. The NCT is a national charity which aims to support parents in the vital first 1001 days of a child’s life. On a national level they campaign for parents and children’s rights and run courses for parents and parents to be to help them navigate those tricky early days. But locally each area has its own NCT branch responsible for providing services to local parents and entirely run by an army of volunteers. In Winchester we are really lucky to have a very dedicated committee of volunteers and as such can offer services including as our:

  • Babies Breastfeeding support group, a vital service for so many that is entirely funded by the money our volunteers raise. No government or NHS funding keeps this service running just pure grit and determination to fundraise over £7000 each year.
  • Bumps and Babies group, a weekly group which allows parents to be and new parents to meet in a welcoming and warm environment which helps to create a firm social support.
  • Twice yearly nearly new sales providing an opportunity for parents to buy and sell great quality clothes and equipment at bargain prices
  • Nappy library which also parents to help reduce waste and try out reusable nappies at a fraction of the cost.

We also host awesome events such as our Open-Air Theatre in the Bishops Garden, a great way to watch some Shakespeare in beautiful surroundings with a glass of bubbly or two. This year we will be treated to Much ado about Nothing on the 2nd of June… and don’t worry it’s a professional performance I won’t be donning a ruff and tights!

As you can tell Winchester NCT are a particularly active bunch and we are lucky to have such a proactive community around here.

I know that many people have certain views of the “type” of person who gets involved in the NCT. There is a little stereotype that we are a room full of yummy mummies sat around drinking herbal tea in our hemp breastfeeding tops but this is so far from the reality…well ok some of us do drink herbal tea but some of us also drink gin! We are all normal mums, we all complain about our hard days and what part of parenting we got wrong this week. There’s no judgement or snottyness (well apart from the child related kind). No one is judged because none of us are the perfect parent.

In reality however the “type” of person who is involved in the NCT, is a parent, a new parent, an experienced parent or just someone who wants to support parents, because that’s what Winchester NCT is all about; supporting each other in being parents.

In an age where we are all more likely to be isolated and lonely than at any other time in history. Having a child can be an extremely solitary experience. So many of us live away from our families and don’t even know our neighbours. You would never believe it was possible to feel so alone without actually ever being alone.

With the UK being one of the loneliest countries in Europe and with 90% of mums and 52 % of dads saying they felt lonely after having children, the old phase “It takes a village to raise a child” seems a distant ideal for many of us.

Winchester NCT wants to change this! I want to change this!

I’m a naturally sociable person (ahem chatter box) and although I love being a mum and spending time with my baby, I find not talking to another adult all-day extremely difficult. By becoming part of the Winchester NCT, I have found a community that has helped me put down roots and feel so at home in the city. I have met many of the neighbours I had never spoken to before, through the NCT. I can walk through town and say hello to so many other mums because we got to know each other at Bumps and Babies. And I get to leave my husband in charge of bedtime once a month to go and eat biscuits with a group of inspirational women (and hopefully men one day) who really care about the work we do. Being involved with NCT has truly helped me build my “village” and as many of us know happy mummy=happy baby.

So why write a blog about volunteering for Winchester NCT? Well because we always need more volunteers and I really want people to know just how great it is! I don’t shout about great things in my life very often but I feel the NCT really needs a shout out.

If you’re reading this thinking “I’d like to help but I don’t have time”, did you know that volunteering makes you feel like you have more time? …I mean it won’t actually give you more hours in the day but you will feel like you do!

What’s not to like? A ready-made community, a supportive group, doing a bit of good for local parents and biscuits!

If you would like to get involved with Winchester NCT either through volunteering or sponsorship then please do email me at coordinator.winchester@nct.org.uk to find out more and how you can help. No matter how much or little time you can offer we can find a role for anyone who has a passion to support parents.