Young volunteers help new mums in Batley and Dewsbury

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Helping local mothers adjust to parenthood has inspired two Dewsbury women to become midwives.

Katie Leather and multi-lingual Robina Paras have enjoyed volunteering at the Batley Baby Cafe and Dewsbury Hospital so much that they are now aiming for careers in healthcare.

They are both involved in counselling and advising new parents on breastfeeding, childcare and health matters.

Robina, 35, is hoping to train in midwifery after a career break to have her own children, and has been helping out on maternity wards as part of a partnership between local charity Auntie Pam’s and the NHS.

Her fluency in Urdu and Punjabi has enabled women from Asian backgrounds to converse freely with her in their first language, especially if their close relatives are overseas.

“I speak Urdu, English and Punjabi and some of the mums I meet are better able to talk to me than to a nurse. That means that I can support them and get them the help they need,” said Rubina, who now plans to go to university.

“I wasn’t confident at first, but with the support of the team at the hospital I now go in and get my work done. I love it.”

23-year-old Katie Leather from Thornhill volunteers at the Batley Baby Cafe drop-in sessions while completing an access course at college, after taking a break from studying to help her parents run the Scarborough Hotel.

She spends four hours each week with women at the Staincliffe and Healey Children’s Centre, helping them to build their confidence and encouraging them to perservere with breastfeeding.

“Some mums feel they don’t get enough information while others think they get too much! It’s a very busy job but I help mums to position their baby better enabling them to latch on properly.”

The pair’s dedication to their voluntary roles has impressed Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust infant feeding co-ordinator Sharon Tunnicliffe.

“Both Robina and Katie are providing superb encouragement to mums – some of whom have no support network to speak of. The first few months of a baby’s life are vital as they attempt to establish a real bond with their mother. Katie and Robina help mums achieve this through encouragement and, since they are both young women themselves, empathy.”