Lewisham's Baby Cafes at risk from defunding

A petition has been launched to save Lewisham's Baby Cafes from being defunded by Lewisham Council.

There are nine baby breastfeeding cafes in Lewisham, which provide post-natal support for mothers who want help with breastfeeding. The health benefits of breastfeeding occur in the first weeks following a child's birth, which is also the time when new parents can feel isolated and overwhelmed. These centres are there to help at that time.

To be sure, Lewisham Council faces some very hard choices about funding in order to find savings to bridge an £85 million funding gap. When many vital front-line services are at risk, it is harder to make a case for projects like these, but supporters point out that the cost of running these facilities are minimal, since they are run by volunteers.

Lewisham Council will make its decision on Wednesday.

56 comments:

bitmorecomplex said...

"The health benefits of breastfeeding occur in the first weeks following a child's birth"

Really?

waste not said...

I wonder how much they are expecting to save?

Bitbob said...

Actually there are massive benefits from Breast Feeding - both short term and long term for mother and baby. For example, the Breast Feeding support is also small part of the Lewisham strategy to tackle obesity (I think c.30% of kids in the Borough starting secondary school are now classified as obese!). Studies have shown that Breast Fed babies are less likely to be obese as they get older - think of all the chronic illnesses that are associated with obesity! There are a whole host of well documented other benefits to Breast Feeding - healthwise and emotional.


The overheads of the Breast Feeding cafes are negligible when compared to the significant benefits - a couple of hours of time /week for a nurse or health visitor per cafe. The cafe's are hosted at GP surgeries and Children's Centre's ie existing overheads. In addition there is a very efficient and passionate administrator (salaried) who co ordinates the training and support of a host of passionate mum's who volunteer to support new mums.


The models is amazing in terms of what it achieves and the cost effectiveness. The council would be mad to withdraw funding! Please please add your support to the petition.

Anon said...

How does not having a 'cafe' stop a mother breastfeeding?
If the costs are minimal why don't the parents pay the cost or fund raise themselves?

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

The borough has taken £110 million of cuts in the past 4 years, over the next 3 there'll be £85 million 1/3 of the budget. Expect the boroughs parks to not be as well maintained as they have been, expect more consultations for Cpz's, cuts to services such as breast feeding cafes as above. The comparatively easy has been cut, the cuts in the next coming years will hit the middle classes.


FYI: Groups opposed to what has happened and what is likely happen if the cuts continue, have called for a Lobby of the council on Wednesday 25 February, when the council budget meeting will be held.
Our statement is here -> http://justpaste.it/j9ar

Pizza snob said...

How does not having a 'school' stop a child learning? How does not having a 'streetlamp' stop someone from lighting up a street?

Newby said...

I would suggest that the easy cuts have not yet happened if the state still feels fit to fund breast feeding cafes. How a mother feeds their child should be of no interest to the state and certainly shouldnt be subsidised by other tax payers. Are people really so thick that they are incapable of feeding a baby, billions and billions of humans seem to manage OK without their local council having to help them. What next breathing cafes for the particularly stupid resident?

Bitbob said...

The term 'Cafe' is a bit of a misnomer! The mums are offered a cup of tea and a biscuit but the main point is that there is support. There can be lots of problems encountered such as mastitis, thrush, pain, concerns about volume of milk, does my baby have tongue tie, etc etc. and these worries are huge if you are a sleep deprived mum struggling in isolation - but most of the problems can be easily overcome with a bit of support. When the mother is not getting much sleep, the support at a 2 hour drop in where they can chat to other mums as well as health professionals, can make all the difference.

Bitbob said...

Clearly you have either never breast fed a baby or if you have, you have been really lucky. Most mums struggle at some point of this journey. The cost of a part time administrator is a small cost when balanced against the long term health benefits of our children.

RB said...

Are you being completely and utterly serious?

Brockley - artisan problems for created needs.

Bitbob said...

For goodness sake! Anyone would think the BF cafe's were offering freshly baked croissants and a variety of 'designer' coffees in plush surroundings!


Would it help if we renamed the Breast Feeding cafe a drop in - because that is all it is. Women make a donation towards a box of PG tips - and if we are pushing the boat out - a packet of rich tea biscuits. Yes, ideally babies would pop out and mum's would put them to the breast and live happily ever after as they do in less developed parts of the world. Don't get me started on the evils of Corporations and the politics of modern society that has left generations of women in the Western World believing that they truly aren't capable of feeding their child but sadly that is the reality.


Also a real reality is thrush, mastitis and sore cracked nipples because mothers can be so tired they haven't got the hang of good attachment or the discipline to make sure the baby latches on properly.


If you have never had to endure this then try and experiment. Rub your nipples with sandpaper, then attach 2 tight nipple clamps, tighten these every 3 hours. Do not sleep for 48 hours and play a soundtrack akin to a baby screaming for half an hour every 2 hours. Then try and carry out your job (whatever that may be). I bet you will struggle.


Having a baby is amazing but many women will struggle for a few days or weeks until their milk comes in. Unlike other parts of the world, many women do not live near family and so don't 'have their mother passing on wisdom for childbirth and feeding. A little bit of support and then it is a joy (for most of them). Surely you can't begrudge them that!

terrencetrentderby said...

Why not merge Lewisham with Southwark, lots of efficiency savings could be made consolidating
roles and departments? This new borough would then become a formidable economic and political power within London. Southwark is developing fast with a much smaller budget defecit (23m last year) than Lewisham's.

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

We have Help-to-Buy a £12 billion government backed mortgage guarantee scheme launched in the last year or so.

There is Help-to-Work for the long term unemployed


Just announced today there is now, Help-to-grow £100million of funding for fast growing businesses. http://www.cityam.com/209108/general-election-2015-david-cameron-plans-new-help-grow-scheme-create-british-mittelstand

This is a breastfeeding cafe offering a bit of gentle support to new mothers, so their babies develop well. Help to breastfeed.

RB said...

Surely a one-pager saying "stick your tit in baby's mouth" would suffice

Vesta Curry said...

I haven't looked much at BC for quite a while: tell me, when did the area become peppered with offensive, ignorant, right-wing trolls (I'm looking at you 'Newby' and 'RB')? Why don't you just keep it to yourself ... or perhaps wander the streets shouting out your facile, ill-informed nonsense. Then at least people would really be able to get a measure of your balanced views and wisdom. The area's going to the dogs.

Anon said...

But can't that support be provided by a self financed group of mothers meeting up at each others houses or booking a venue and adviser?

Anon said...

You are always a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. The reason the country is crisis because people like yourself think money grows on trees thinking the state should provide forgetting it is Estate Agents pushing prices of former council properties up to £500k that create the wealth the state spends on the poverty created by such estate agents.
By the way is your job one of permanent protest, walking the streets with a placard...have you thought of being an events organiser for a PR company?

Anon said...

But they are not in the outback cut off from society and they will have neighbours who've previously or recently breast fed, a card at the ante-natal clinic to get a self help group to get off the ground?

Bitbob said...

Can I be rude and ask - are you a man? I assume you have never given birth? You must be a man!


I believe the c section rate at Lewisham is c. 30% - that is major abdominal surgery. Have you any idea how tricky it is sometimes to get out the house with a new born baby - with or without C section? Presumably you've never changed a nappy only to have it soiled minutes later again - possibly with a toddler hanging on your skirt, not quite potty trained. Just when you think you are good to leave the house - baby vomits all over you and you all have to get changed and start over again. This is not all of motherhood but it is a realistic picture in the early days when the help is most needed. Do you seriously think that the average women with her boobs bursting with milk (or worse, not!), with sporadic sleep, possibly a deep scar from a C section or other injuries that may or may not be incurred during labour (which can last 3 hours but can also go on for 48 hours) - do you honestly think a mum like that is going to finance (!!!!) and organise a BF support group at home!

Anon said...

But that very same 30% you indicate can't get out the house can get to the 'cafe' ?
What's wrong with some of the other 70% fund raising & organising or their partners getting involved?

How difficult would it be to set up a Lewisham new mums Facebook page for a start and advertise it at the various clinics?

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

This is country is not in crisis. This country has a public sector deficit. Which has increased since the adoption of austerity policies. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/psa/public-sector-finances/september-2014/stb-sept-2014.html (3 point down)

<... because people like yourself think money grows on trees>


Money does not grow on trees. The accumulation of money comes off the backs of people's work. Government money is our money, when we pay income tax, VAT etc etc. Our money, yours, your families' everyone's in this society was used to fund a bailout of a banking system that was on the point of collapsing. The reason being that some people; bankers decided that money may not grow on trees, but 'if we play around derivatives we can make it appear that is does'.

If people want to play around their own money, fine, take the hit if you make a loss. However this not what happened, these businesses, were so huge, so monopolistic, so intertwined in our economy they were deemed 'too big too fail' and were bailed out with *our money*, money that was used to make improvements to the standard of living in our country.
Access loans so that people could retrain, get new skills, gone.
Student Fees tripled. NHS funds 'ringfenced' rather than being increased.

So instead of investing in people, into our society our money has gone to prop up banks. It was not Lewisham who caused or created this situation. Yet Lewisham will take an £85 million hit.
Not acceptable.

Rail against the people who have power, who make the decisions. We are people like you, who live in, love this borough and want better for it.

THNick said...

No it can't. Because the mothers can't group together and find a breast feeding expert, because they dont know in advance that they'll need them.
Of course the msot well off mothers will be able to get private 1 to 1 help. But that means most will miss out, causing longer term costs to society.

THNick said...

"billions and billions of humans seem to manage OK" apart from the infant mortality.

Rather that spout rubbish on the internet, you could read NICE's research on this, in particular their recommendation that health authorities should "Provide local, easily accessible breastfeeding peer support programmes and ensure peer supporters are part of a multidisciplinary team."

THNick said...

No it would't. Glad to have explained that to you.

Newby said...

You assume that everyone subscribes to your world view. Some of us offensive right wing trolls are very happy for the state to be cut down in terms of its size and scope. I cannot for the life of me work out why the state should have a view on what babies should drink and taxpayers certainly shouldnt be asked to become involve in decisions which are best made at an individual level. In my experience as a parent the only people who seem to pressure mothers are the natural birth/breast is best police who run NCT classes!

Anon said...

Over a 9 month period would not the matter of breastfeeding and other concerns be raised by and with medical staff?
On another forum new mothers have reached out to each other and had meetings.

Anon said...

Guardian 2013

"As freshers' week gets under way across the country, new figures show that the number of students accepted to study at UK universities has returned to the levels before tuition fees were raised to £9,000.

The recovery in student numbers for the 2013 academic year suggests that the increase in fees has done little or nothing to dull the appetite for full-time higher education in those leaving school."


Guardian 2014

"In 2014-15, the (student) cap will increase by 30,000 students and, from 2015-16, universities will be able to recruit as many students as they like. The government predicts that the number of students entering higher education each year will increase by 60,000.

Anne said...

Typical leftie - trying to shut down debate and the other (rational) side of the argument by any means!


The public sector in the UK is far too big and wasteful. There's plenty of room for savings.

Loops81 said...

Suggesting these women just self organise is a but like expecting people with mental health difficulties or drug addictions to form and fund their own support groups. You don’t know what help you’re going to need until you’re at your most vulnerable. Anon and RB - thankfully for you, you’ve never been hit by the terrifying realisation that keeping a tiny baby alive ISN’T actually as simple as "stick your tit in baby's mouth". But one day maybe your wife, daughter, sister or friend will and I imagine you’ll be the first in line to complain that there’s no support out there. These groups cost very little to run and without them many breastfeeding mothers and babies would end up using valuable GP appointments and hospital beds. I speak from experience. Let's hope the council makes the right decision today.

Headhunter said...

I think this is the crux of it. If you boil it down to cold, hard costs then is cutting this clinic/drop in going to save money in the long run if mothers in need are simply going to clog up GP surgeries and A&E? If so it's a false economy. Let's hope Lewisham BC look at the monetary implications beyond the initial cost saving....

Brockley Nick said...

I think it would be helpful if someone explained how much they actually do cost to run. Cuts have to be made and savings found. Things are being shut all across the borough, so people need facts in order to do the cost benefit analysis.

Headhunter said...

The thing is that since changes to the further and higher education systems which sees colleges and universities run as businesses, entry to these institutions is less and less based on educational merit and increasingly based on ability to pay.


Go back 50 years when the grant system was in place, a student from a poor background stood as much chance of being able to get into university as one from an extremely wealthy background because the poorer student would have been able to get grant funding. These days how likely is it for some kid from a poor family in Lewisham who gets amazing grades at GCSE and A Level would be able to find the money to pay for uni? Only the top couple of percent of people went to university at that time but those that did were there because they had the top grades.


These days every Tom, Dick and Harry is being pushed into further and higher education when in many cases they would do better to be on some kind of work based training or apprenticeship scheme rather than running up tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt getting a worthless degree in "Drama Studies" or some such subject marketed to them by government and universities as some kind of doorway to an amazing career...

Headhunter said...

The fact remains that with the billions and billions of quid of our money the government used to prop up the banking system, each and every household across the UK could have been individually given (I think - can't remember the exact number) £25,000 to do with what they saw fit! That's an amazing statistic

THNcik said...

Medical staff do raise it (and the need is an immediate one, not a general one spread over months). Health visitors refer mothers to the breast feeding cafes (they were "clinics" until a few years back).


There is one NHS breastfeeding specialist working at Kings/Guys. You couldnt get referred to her until you'd be to the "cafe" to see the specialists there. Presumably this level of triage has now been removed, so she'll get a lot more referrals, need to employ more same level specialists, at great expenses. But the cost has moved from the local authority to NHS. Like much of the cuts, this is how we are "saving" money.

THNick said...

Trouble is that Lewisham council has to make cuts. If they can move costs to the "ring fenced" NHS budget, then they will.

Monkeyboy said...

because the entire argumnent can be reduced to public sector good/private sector bad...or visa versa. having worked in both i can testify that's balls and in fact many things have both types of organisation involved. its a trite agument from both sides, although polioticians like to use it because the electorate does like a bad guys/good guys story. saves thinking

MotherK said...

Ha ha! Wonderful! Well, the next time your sphericals are inflamed and bleeding I expect you to knock on every door on your street hoping someone will be able to give you the help you need. Or perhaps you'd rather leave your business card at the GPs surgery on your next visit in the hope someone will call you if and when you ever suffer such issues in the future.

Woman of Brockley said...

Just when you think you've seen every idiotic thing you could possibly imagine, the internet triumphs and comes up with another one.

trevor said...

it's good to patronise large swaths of people in one go . . . keep it up

Monkeyboy said...

I find it saves time

Anon said...

So all these woman had sex with a stranger and forgot to take the pill, the cap failed, the condom burst, they didn't take a morning after pill because they couldn't remember what happened the night before?
Of course not....the vast majority have a partner and therefore are not in isolation cut off from society, the mothers will have had at least 6 months for themselves and their partners to be aware a child is to be born and may require breast feeding.
Most sane people who have a medical condition will contact the appropriate medical authority. Possibly there are villages in Lewisham that don't have the internet, phones, midwifes, nurses, doctors, walk-in centres, urgent care or A&E units etc.

PJK said...

The council's analysis is here: http://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/documents/s33730/2015%2016%20Appendices%202%20to%2020%20for%20Savings%20report.pdf

Page 44 - Saving of £68k out of £187k budget, but this includes several items not just the breastfeeding support (provision of free Vitamin D and "reducing funding commitment for the child death review function"). I can't imagine the breastfeeding support takes up a large chunk of this saving

Page 46 - they note the impacts "...of the peer support programme for breast feeding mothers is likely to extend beyond the breast feeding".
It is obviously hard to quantify this but given personal experience and gut feel this service provides good value for money

Woman of Brockley said...

Anon, you really don't know what you are talking about. NHS support for breastfeeding is patchy. GPs, health visitors and even midwives are not always very well informed about it. Many women have very little support from their partners, families and friends, often quite the opposite. Very few have seen anyone else breastfeeding before their first child is born. With good advice and support to begin with most women can breastfeed, but without it it can all seem too daunting. A little bit of friendly peer support, backed up by access to a well-trained specialist, is absolutely invaluable in the very early stages after the baby is born and yes, this does matter. There is a huge amount of good quality research evidence that breastfed babies have long-lasting benefits, e.g.much reduced risk of infection in the early months, better development of the jaw, reduced incidence of asthma/eczema. For the mother there is a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer. It is incredibly shortsighted not to support families with new babies as the savings are likely to be wiped out by increased public expenditure elsewhere.

fabhat said...

With my first child I was kept in hospital for days after birth as breastfeeding wasn't working. Despite asking for checks and being assured it was fine my daughter in fact had a tongue tie, not spotted or looked for by the midwives, the in-hospital feeding support or the paediatrician we saw...after 2 days, and with not much improvement we were discharged.


I had talked about breast feeding and had a class about BF before the baby was born, I had seen many friends BF in the past, I was keen to BF, my partner was keen for me to BF and yet I couldn't do it. Desparate and distressed we were helped by the BF cafe and supporters in deptford - who diagnosed a tongue tie, arranged a referral and spent hours trying to improve the situation even as a temporary measure. Once the tongue tie was separated they helped with retraining my daughter to feed properly.


No one else in my group of friends had this problem, my sister in law HAD had this problem with her first son and tried to help but she couldn't have referred me for treatment or had the knowledge about positioning etc that the BF supporters did. I coud have clogged up a hospital bed, HV appointment books, a doctors surgery or my daughter coulkd have got so dehydrated she ended up in hospital. All far more expensive than the 2 hours sitting in a cumminuity centre with some amazing volunteers.


I hope that helps explain a little bit for the "just stick your tit in the baby's mouth" brigade why these services are still necessary...

MotherK said...

Anon, if I had poorly fitting shoes that caused an infected blister, you're right, I can go to the docs for some antibiotics. But I still have the same poorly fitting shoes that will cause that blister to reappear. The doc isn't going to find me the perfect shoe. For that, I need a specialist. Just like every foot, each breastfeeding problem is different to that individual. Anon, it's fine to admit that you're wrong. In fact, we'll respect you more if you do.

Anon said...

Well, that was what I was hoping for, and finally PJK as delivered the goods.

Anon said...

So with less than £4k from each wards Local Assembly fund the facility could continue?

MotherK said...

Wrong! The 'pressure' applied by doctors and midwives after you give birth is quite overwhelming. If the NHS promote breastfeeding then they should see it through if and when women experience problems. The reason the state has a vested interest is because breastfeeding gives babies better immunity.

Anon said...

According to the Lewisham's Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) 5000 babies a year born to mothers from Lewisham. The vast majority being born at Lewisham Hospital. Although the vast majority of Forest Hill babies are born at Kings College and babies from New Cross & Evelyn ward take the bus to St. Thomas's.

"Between April 2008 and March 2009 there were 4744 NHS delivery episodes for women resident in Lewisham3. Around 46% of births were to women from black and minority ethnic groups, and the ethnicity of a further 15% is not known. 5% of deliveries were to women aged under 20, and 6% were to women aged over 40."
No indication of them having mental illness or being vulnerable due to an addiction to alcohol or drugs. That's an average of 96 babies a week for the borough.

Newby said...

That wasn't my experience then again I didn't use the nhs so as to avoid most of the nonsense that the midwifery 'profession' peddle.

Tamsin said...

I was told the Ward Assemblies budget is £1m pa (that this information is buried somewhere in the council's figures) and I believe they deliver £20K (?) of grant monies per per ward. So if these sums are right little more than one tenth of the administrative money saved by doing away with the Ward Assemblies would save this service (plus the Vitamin D and things) and the rest could go towards the millions of cuts that are being made.

Anne said...

That's your trite argument, not mine. I made no such comment and neither can it be inferred from my post.


I'm capable of much more nuanced debate, which appears not to be within your remit.

Brockley Nick said...

As someone who initially supported the Assemblies I agree they should be the first thing to go. They've already been stripped of much of their funding power and their "public engagement" value is a relatively expensive luxury the Council can no longer afford.

Fabhat said...

Update from the meeting here: https://www.change.org/p/sir-steve-bullock-mayor-of-lewisham-save-lewisham-s-baby-cafes/u/9640776?tk=BtV3jvx9P1uQAhbWD0nBaukqqO5IZStehhpMcZCvj9o&utm_source=petition_update&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=&utm_term=

Rose Bud said...

crikey this is a depressing thread, Breastfeeding cafes are just a place where new mothers go to speak to a health visitor about feeding their babies. it's cheaper to have a baby cafe one afternoon or morning a week for all local parents. You get a cup of tea and some sympathy - i never got a biscuit. It also a nice way for mums to get to know each other, I would happily donate to our local one as i found it a life saver 7 years ago. Not everyone can afford to donate though, and if you are pretty hard up breast feeding is a great choice as its free.

Monkeyboy said...

"The public sector in the UK is far too big and wasteful. There's plenty of room for savings."

so, the nuance. where is that exaclty?

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