Posted: August 20 2018
Claire Harrison is a new mum and lives in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire. After Ella was born and her partner Johnny went back to work, she realised she had extra time on her hands and felt the need to get out more. Ideally she wanted to meet other mums like herself and combine it with getting fit again. So when she heard about the Ready Steady Mums walking group, through her antenatal class friends, she was delighted to join in.
Claire said: “Being a new mum, I was keen to find local groups to meet other mums and activities where Ella and I could enjoy time together. When I heard about the Ready Steady Mums walking group being offered in Hoddesdon, I thought it was such a simple idea but ticked all the boxes for me – and it’s free!”
She wasn’t alone, the group has now grown in popularity and size. There are now groups offered in two locations which meet every Tuesday in Barclay Park, Hoddesdon at 10:30am and on a Wednesday at Cedars Park, Cheshunt at 10:30am, with each group meeting at the main entrance of the two parks.
Research carried out by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence NICE shows that by introducing an exercise programme, such as walking, anxiety or depression can be alleviated. These mental health issues are linked to pregnancy, with 15-20% of women in the first year following childbirth experiencing depression and anxiety*. There are also links with women who experience weight gain following childbirth and their struggle with a change in body shape**.
The objective of the group was to provide the area with a no-cost, exercise friendly, sociable walking group, as part of Hertfordshire Community NHS Trusts initiative known as “Building Community Capacity”. The aims of the group were to put mothers in touch with one another, while carrying out low to moderate exercise. Their target group were any mums suffering with low moods or those struggling to leave the house due to lack of confidence.
The group began on 15th May 2018, at Barclay Park in Hoddesdon, co-ordinated by HCT Health visitors Sophia Ferrari-Wills and Emma Gambrill. She is now about to pass over the running of the initiative to the mums themselves.
Sophia Ferrari-Wills and Emma Gambrill
Sophia said: “The group has proved to be really popular. It is continually growing due to word-of-mouth, advertising in the health centre, promotion by health visitors and through a smartphone app named Mush.
“We have achieved our objective to provide a free, sociable activity directed at the needs of many mums. Feedback from the ladies shows how much they appreciate the benefits provided by the group. Many feel they have made positive, new friendships. They’ve also regained their own independence by being out and about, raised their self-esteem and additionally relish the exercise they carry out as a part of the group. I think the babies have fun too, as well as getting some fresh air!
“I have truly enjoyed implementing the initiative and feel a sense of pride towards the mothers who have continued the group, which is evolving with each week it’s held.”
Sam Figueira who walks with her baby girl Amelia is also from Hoddesdon. She agrees with Sophia: “I am now in touch with many more mums as a result of joining this fun walking group. It’s a great excuse to leave the house and has improved my sense of independence and overall fitness. When we all chat you realise you’re not alone, with the multitude of tasks and pressures that we face as new parents. I enjoy the sessions so much that I have accepted the offer to become the group leader, now that we can run these sessions ourselves, independent of the HCT. Thanks so much to Sophia for originally setting the initiative up!”
When searching for a local walking group, any interested mum should enter their postcode at the Ready Steady Mums website. Ready Steady Mums is a volunteer-led, community exercise movement for mums, a programme run by the Institute of Health Visiting. It operates purely on a non-profit basis and currently in Hertfordshire the only groups currently offered are in Hoddesdon and Cheshunt.
Here is a BBC radio interview about Ready Steady Mums:
Mums can sign up by contacting their Hoddesdon/Cheshunt Health Visiting service on 01992 474686. If any mums are interested in forming their own group go to this link or ask your local health visitor service for advice.
*(National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), 2017)
** La Coursiere, Baksh, Bloebaum & Barner, 2006)
16th January 2019
Listen here for the second radio interview with another grateful mum, as well as HCT’s Health Visitor Sophia Ferrari-Wills. Together they are interviewed about the expansion of this innovative initiative on a BBC Three Counties radio show hosted by Anna Williamson which focuses on mental health issues.
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