About Us

 

A Welcome from The Chair

MGemma B Hy name is Gemma Burnett-Hitchcock, and I’m founder and Chair of Blind Mums Connect. I’m a mum of 3, and totally blind. I’m also a doula and antenatal teacher, specialising in supporting visually impaired parents. You can read more about what I do, if you are interested, on my work site at

www.birchtreebeginnings.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

So what is Blind Mums Connect about and what do we do?

Blind Mums Connect was set up to link visually impaired mums from all over the UK, to share information and support one another. The organisation has grown out of an email list, (VI-Mums), which I set up 12 years ago, when my eldest was just 4, and I felt like the only blind mum in the world! The email list became increasingly busy, and local meet ups were arranged from time to time. Then in February 2013, myself and a group of very dedicated mums created the management team, and Blind Mums Connect was officially founded. Since then, the organisation has grown rapidly, and we now have over 200 full members, with more joining us every week.

Listening to our members, it is clear that there is a real need for groups where we can chat to other VI mums, and this brings tremendous benefits, in terms of having the knowledge and confidence to tackle the every-day challenges we share. Of course, connecting through local gatherings, Skype groups or forums, also provides the chance to meet a wonderful range of new friends. As VI mums, it is fantastic to share encouragement, reassurance and real-life experiences and tips with others in a similar situation and who can really understand. This is why we keep our Email List, Facebook Group and Skype groups “closed”, for members only, to provide that private space.

Blind Mums Connect welcomes associate members, (partners, dads, friends and professionals who support our aims), and some of them make a great contribution to the volunteer team. But I believe it is important that all our group facilitators, forum admins and peer supporters are VI mums themselves. That’s because everything we do is about facilitating peer support and information sharing. Traditionally, support for visually impaired people in the UK has been very much dominated by sighted “experts”, and whilst we respect the work many professionals do, and regularly signpost members to other support and services, we feel there is no substitute for peer support.

In order to provide the best information and support possible, we also ensure that forum admins and teleconferencing support group facilitators are equipped with experience and knowledge to assist with the common questions and concerns our members bring, and to point them in the direction of further support where appropriate, as well as ensuring groups run smoothly.

We are committed to expanding our services to reach as many VI mums as possible, focusing on what our members want and need. We are growing rapidly as a national organisation, and without paid employees, we are reliant on our dedicated volunteer team to organise and deliver all our events and activities.

Membership is free, (see our Membership and Associate Membership pages), and our members organise a variety of local gatherings, including outings with the little ones, and evenings out without them!  the support team currently runs at least 4 Skype groups each month, with the menu constantly expanding. In addition, members can chat via our Email List and Facebook Group  

Expectant and new mums can also opt to be linked up with a trained peer support volunteer for individual support.  Our peer support project has grown out of a breastfeeding pilot project set up 2 years ago.  Since then the project has expanded, to provide support via phone and home visits, with the practical challenges of baby care, feeding and getting out with little ones.  The team even includes a qualified sling consultant, who has undergone in-depth training in baby carrying, in order to advise volunteers and members about using slings and baby carriers. We are currently seeking funding to extend the peer support project, so that we can train more volunteers and offer individual support to mums of older children to.  Our aim over the next few months is to achieve charity status, enabling us to connect more VI mums, and put more plans into action!        

If you haven’t already done so, please do join us!  warmest wishes,

Gemma BH