Meet a Villager: Ashleigh

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Get to know your fellow local parents who are regulars at The Village and learn more about how our services have helped them.

This time meet Ashleigh, who has been coming since our launch day!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Catford with my partner Paul and our baby Sienna. We’ve lived here about 4 1/2 years and love the area. I’m originally from Zimbabwe and my family all live there. Paul is from Scarborough and his family all live there. We therefore don’t have family nearby and I didn’t have many friends with babies in London (I am one of the first).

Before you joined us at The Village, how was your experience of early parenthood? How were you feeling?

I always assumed breastfeeding would come easily but it really didn’t. Sienna wasn’t able to latch on. I found this really hard and quite overwhelming. We had an extended stay in hospital and once discharged there were still Covid related travel restrictions in place so family couldn’t visit.

How did you find out about The Village?

With family far away, we had sought assistance from a post-natal doula, Sarah Tessier. When we got home from the hospital she came to see us the very next day. We discussed my feeding concerns and suggested we come into see Lisa at the Feeding Support Group. It was the day The Village launched at Corbett Community Library and Sienna was 9 days old. I remember what a lovely feeling it had, everyone was so friendly and helpful. I didn’t have many friends with babies that lived nearby so it was a world I knew nothing about so the sense of community was really appealing.

What was the first class/group/service you came for? How was that experience?

The Feeding Support Group. Lisa was amazing. She was so supportive and kind. She made really good suggestions which we were able to implement. I went a few more times but thankfully our feeding journey became a lot smoother as time went by.

What other services have you used at The Village?

I have also been a regular at the Ladywell Fields Walk & Talks. I love this. I usually go on a Monday morning and it is a great start to the week. I like to have some structure to my weeks and this starts the week well. I have met so many lovely mums and babies through this. It is really laid back and so nice to talk to people going through similar things.

When I was at the Feeding Support Group I remember hearing the Family Music class and thinking that sounded so fun. We really enjoyed this class and tried to go every week. At first Sienna was so young so it was more for me. I really didn’t know any songs so it gave me lots of ideas for play at home. I wanted Sienna to be exposed to music (and noise!) from a very young age. Sienna loved these classes and started interacting a lot more. Again, I met so many lovely people through this class and loved seeing them each week.

We started post-natal Pilates once I felt I was ready. We stayed after music for this and it is lovely to feel like I had some ‘me time’ (even with Sienna on the blanket next to me) and to get some gentle exercise in.

I have also seen Sarah Parker for a physio session and had a gorgeous massage. The one off classes have interesting content and are worth looking out for (I did a Return to Work one which was so helpful). It is so great that these services are available all in one place.

What difference has The Village made to your feelings and experience of being a parent?

I have loved feeling a part of something and making friends / having a community around me. I wouldn’t have had that to the same extent without coming across The Village. It’s great to chat to other people in similar positions and have the advice of professionals available if you need it. I have definitely had access to a lot of information and services which I would have known nothing about if it hadn’t been for The Village.

Have you made friends at The Village?

Yes, loads! Hopefully we will watch each other’s babies grow and be able support each other along the way.

What would you say to local parents who are thinking of coming to The Village?

Come and say hi! You never know the community you could discover.

Want to be a Villager?

Book yourself a place at one of our sessions and find your Village.

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