Networking at it's best. (Cuddle cot for Northampton General Hospital).
In a recent interview with Merryn Magazine I was asked, 'Is there any advice you would give to other charities?.' My response was 'to take some time to network. Get to know what other groups are doing and sign post to them. Some groups are very good at what they do in certain areas, so it's better to signpost to them rather than do something you are not skilled at.'
I try to spend some time each day 'just chatting' with other groups to keep up with their events or other things that are going on. I have been doing this with some group and individuals for a number of years now, so when I was contacted by Angela Roberts ( I Have Rights Too) who was looking for a home for a cuddle cot, I set about finding someone who would appreciate it. Angela had spent a number of years tirelessly fundraising-mostly single handed- to buy a cuddle cot for her local hospital, but when it was time to hand it over they didn't want it. They had already been given one, but couldn't see the need for two. I'm of the ilk that you don't say no to gifts like this, and if I can't make use of it then I can find someone who can.
I contacted the bereavement support midwives ( Rachael and Rachel as they are know) and asked if they would like a cuddle cot and explained Angela's dilemma. It's fair to say that they were surprised, especially as Angela lived 90 miles away in Aldershot. I explained that I had been speaking with Angel for a number of years and that the offer of the cuddle cot was a result of positive networking. Their only concern was that it would have to be tested, which didn't pose a problem as it was brand new.
I met Angela and her husband, Chris, in the restaurant at the hospital and then made our way to the maternity day unit, where we met with Rachael and Rachel. One of the Rachels (I always get confused with which one is which-I get confused with a lot of things at my age ) has an appointment but the other one found a room (The snowdrop room, which is used for new Angel parents) and Angela explained her story and how she had raised the money for the cuddle cot.
Speaking with Angel on Facebook a few days later she was delighted that the cuddle cot had found a home, where it was obvious that it was appreciated. That helped soothe her after it had been turned out by her local hospital. Another thing she appreciated was the time Rachael had given her to explain her story about her own loss of Natasha in 1979, how she was buried in a mass grave and had her organs 'stolen'. (That's a whole different story in itself).
Angela was aware that Daddys with Angels had started a drive to get hand made (Knitted and crocheted) cribs and other items in to hospitals for stillborn babies, so along with the cuddle cot she also brought up 4 bin liners full of wedding and prom dresses to be used to make burial gowns for tiny and still born babies.
Networking does work, and this is an example of it working well. More and more I see groups and individuals trying to turn the child loss community into a competition, which saddens me. If we all start networking, talking about what we do and sharing then the child loss community will become more effective and Angel parents will get the a better quality of support.