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Cwtsh Clos coffee group offers support

Cwtsh Clos coffee morning

Being able to chat to someone who has gone through tough times similar to your own is proving to be a real perk for members of a special coffee group.

Set up just over a year ago for families past and present, who have seen their babies admitted to Singleton Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the group offers peer support and a sympathetic ear.

It is also an opportunity for Swansea Bay UHB staff to offer guidance on raising children who have perhaps not had a straightforward start to life. 

Some of the group regulars have shared their stories in order to support our Cwtsh Clos campaign, aimed at raising £160K to refurbish and re-equip a terrace of five houses made available to parents of babies in NICU, who do not live near to the unit.

Cwtsh Clos Coffee Group The idea for the group, which meets in a community centre opposite Cwtsh Clos once a month came from Nadia Khan (pictured left), whose son, Rhys, has just turned one.. 

Rhys spent seven weeks in NICU having arrived 11 weeks early.

She said: “I’d gone to another baby group, and as much as I enjoyed it, I felt because I had a premature baby I had a very different start to parenthood. I kind of struggled to relate to other mums.

“So I put a post on Facebook and said, ‘If I get the ball rolling, would anyone be interested in coming along?’ 

“It had loads of positive feedback and it kind of went from there.”

Nadia is keen to lend her support to the Cwtsh Clos campaign after realising how important it is to be based near NICU once mums have been discharged.

She said: “We were really lucky that we live only 10 minutes down the road. I can’t imagine having to factor in travel, having to factor in being away from home, on top of spending all day in hospital.

“It’s vitally important to have something like Cwtsh Clos for families to stay at.”

Swansea Bay neonatal nursery nurseCheryl Tobin helped set up the coffee mornings once the idea had been hatched.

She said: “It was brought up in one of our meetings with mums and members of staff that a coffee morning would be a nice idea to help support the parents, to talk through their different stories and offer peer support which is so important. 

“All our families have been through the experience of having a baby on the neonatal unit, some have been there for a number of weeks and months.

“This can be a very lonely and difficult experience. 

“When babies go home they may be more at risk of catching infections and so families are reluctant to go to other baby groups. Babies may also be later reaching their developmental milestones.”Although well-meaning, some of the questions from fellow parents in other groups could be unintentionally upsetting.

Cheryl added: “Parents of babies that are born early can be asked questions that although well-meaning could be unintentionally upsetting such as ’Why is your baby so small?’ ‘Why isn’t your baby doing this?’ ‘Why has your baby got tubes on their face?’

“It’s the retelling the story time and time again.

“Here, they feel as though they don’t need to retell the story as everyone has shared a similar experience which isn’t always understood by others.”

Cheryl is also backing the Cwtsh Clos campaign.

She said: “Some of the parents that come to our baby group have stayed in the houses in Cwtsh Clos and have said how invaluable they are. 

“Being able to offer somewhere for them to stay means they don’t have to worry about leaving their babies and travelling back and fore to the hospital. 

“They can spend this extra time with their little ones as well as having a place to relax and unwind. 

“The houses have been used for many years and are in need of an update so this campaign is really important so that we can continue to offer accommodation to our families.”

Cwtsh Clos Coffee Group
The group invites health board staff in to give mums ideas on what to do with their babies at home. 

One such person is Leah Watson (pictured main pic right), a child specialist speech and language therapist. 

She said: “It offers a bit of time where parents can chat to each other, that’s really helpful. Their babies can play together in a nice, safe space.

“Then we have a bit more of a structure with group activities. We might do some singing, model a few signs, and work on attention listening, put in a fun way.

“We know that a lot of babies who are born prematurely can be more susceptible to having delay with their communication and interaction.

“We also have a physiotherapist who comes along to do early movement activities, and an occupational therapist who works on hands skills and play as well.”

Leah said it was clear that the families appreciated the opportunity to get together with others going through similar experiences.

She said: “Their feedback  from going to the mainstream community groups is  it’s very difficult taking their babies there because they haven’t had the same journey as other parents.

“They really appreciate coming to this because they know that the other families in the group have had a similar experience. It’s very therapeutic for them.”

If you would like to give an online donation to Cwtsh Clos, you can do that by clicking here.

To make a donation using your phone, please text 'Donate Swanseabayhealth homes' to 88802.

If you would like to fundraise for us yourself, or hold a fundraising event, please visit our JustGiving page for Cwtsh Clos here, where you will find more information.

You can also visit our Cwtsh Clos webpage for more information about the NICU centre and the fundraising appeal.

Thank you for your support!

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We welcome correspondence and telephone calls in Welsh or English. Welsh language correspondence will be replied to in Welsh, and this will not lead to a delay. This page is available in Welsh by clicking ‘Cymraeg’ at the top right of this page.