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HomeLifestyleKidsBaby, where's my village? Mums heed the call

Baby, where’s my village? Mums heed the call

It takes a village to raise a child, so they say. But when you don’t have a village, what do you do?

That’s exactly how Emma Gray felt after the birth of her first child. So, she decided to establish her own ‘village’ – a community of kind members who wanted to support new mums and families.  While her focus is in Queensland, she has recently helped set up a branch for mums in the Northern Beaches.

Emma Gray with her hampers at the ready.

Originally from country NSW, Emma moved to Brisbane 10 years ago, away from friends and family and the close-knit community she grew up in. But it wasn’t until she became a mother that she felt the absence of her neighbourhood.

“I always knew that I wanted babies. It felt really natural to me. I didn’t have a complicated pregnancy and I had a really simple birth,” explained Emma. “For so many years, I’d supported my friends with onesies or a beanie for their baby. But nobody tells you the reality of what you really need.”

A hamper from Nurtured Village.

With many friends also experiencing motherhood in isolation, even before Covid, Emma wondered how they could be a resource for each other’s actual needs rather than buying another beanie.

In starting the Facebook community group, the idea was to provide practical support for other mothers and families – from help with the cleaning to delivering home-cooked meals for exhausted parents.

The first hamper delivery was to a Brisbane mum whose five-year-old daughter had just been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. It was a car boot full of supplies donated by the small community of 20 members.

Since that early start, ‘The Nurtured Village Hampers’ has grown organically into a registered charity with 16 other volunteers in towns and cities across the country including a Northern Beaches branch.

It has been an eye-opening journey for Emma, especially in her understanding of the struggle of motherhood.

“We are actually in a crisis situation for maternal mental health. The statistics are really alarming. According to the Gidget Foundation, 1 in 5 women suffer from post-natal depression and that’s predicted to rise. Additionally, 1 in 3 women describes experiencing birth trauma. So, we really need to do better and be a resource for each other.”

‘The Nurtured Village Hampers’ is not a mother’s group. Instead, it is a community of people who donate time, gifts and home-cooked meals to families in the local area.

Families in need, are nominated by group members or the public. Once a month, the local coordinators identify which family will receive a hamper and share how each ‘village’ can contribute to their needs.

For newly single mum Liana Quinlivan, the hamper she received also included gift vouchers, which allowed enough ease in her budget to pay for her daughter’s swimming lessons.

Liana was happy to receive some help for her new family.

For another family of nine, who had recently fostered newborn twins, their hamper included practical gifts of formula, nappies and clothing.

“It has been a lot of work to organise. But people have said it’s like being wrapped in a giant hug from an entire group of strangers and it’s in those moments that I know it’s making a difference.”

“It has been a lot of work to organise. But people have said it’s like being wrapped in a giant hug from an entire group of strangers and it’s in those moments that I know it’s making a difference.”

The Northern Beaches branch is ran by local mum and HypnoBirthing educator Emma Meaney, who saw The Nurtured Village Hampers’ posts on Instagram and wanted to get involved.

The most recent family to receive a hamper was a single mum and her four children, one of whom has a severe intellectual disability. The nomination suggested gifts including home-cooked dairy-free meals, plants and pots, a family pass to a local activity centre and a massage for mum.

Emma Meaney is coordinating the Northern Beaches branch of the Nurtured Village.

There are 160 people in the local group, but Emma Meaney hopes to get a broader community base and support from local businesses to ensure the service can continue.

“It’s great to have this group in the Northern Beaches, which has a nice community. I’m always seeing people help each other. So, I thought it would be a nice thing to be part of our community too.”

If you’re a local resident or business who would like to help build the village, or a new parent, be sure to join the Facebook group. 

You can contact the local branch via  northernbeaches@thenurturedvillage.org