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 2, 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?

Well 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 10 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 2 years ago, myself and a group of very dedicated mums created the management committee, and Blind Mums Connect was officially founded. Since then, the organisation has grown rapidly, and we now have over 100 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, phone 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 our committee members must all be VI mums, as well as our group facilitators and forum admins. 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 we currently organise a variety of local gatherings, as well as running at least 6 Skype groups each month, with the menu constantly expanding. In addition, members can chat via our Email List and Facebook Group. Not forgetting our popular quarterly ezine!

Over the next few months we will be bringing you:

The launch of our Breastfeeding peer support project

Teleconferencing to replace existing Skype groups

An expanded calendar of teleconferencing groups to choose from

More groups aimed at mums with older children

Baby wearing/carrying peer support

More local gatherings

We will keep you all posted on our progress and the services and opportunities on offer as these change.

If you haven’t already done so, please do join us! Volunteer applications, fundraising ideas and donations are also very welcome! You can meet the team, read about our Aims & Objectives and find out more about what we offer on this site, and feel free to get in touch with any questions, suggestions or feedback – we genuinely want to hear from you, it’s what we’re all about!

With warmest wishes,

Gemma BH