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International rugby star and Croydon Mayor join volunteers at Croydon University Hospital to help women who have suffered pregnancy loss
29 September 2017

The Mayor of Croydon joined staff from Barclays bank, former international rugby star Craig Chalmers, local landscaping company Chris’ Gardens, and national charity Abigail’s Footsteps at Croydon University Hospital recently to help improve the environment for women who have suffered pregnancy loss.

The 10-strong team from Barclays began their fundraising week on September 18 by helping support the charity, which specialises in providing funding for training for midwives, specialist hospital equipment and enhancing the hospital environment for bereaved families .

As well as donating money, the volunteers spent the day improving areas in the Trust’s maternity ward to make a warmer environment including a new butterfly mural for women in one of the multi-functional birth rooms. The volunteers also rolled up their sleeves and donned their gardening gloves to help Chris’ Gardens transform the Garden Bereavement Suite courtyard, which leads out from a room used by women who have experienced pregnancy loss.

The volunteers, whose normal working days involves sitting in corporate offices in Maidstone and Croydon, uprooted weeds and other greenery that had overtaken the outside space. This area has been transformed and is a welcome addition for bereaved women and their families to reflect in the home-from-home environment of the Garden Suite.

Inside the unit, the team hung the colourful bespoke mural and built furniture including a Cold Cot, all of which were donated by Abigail’s Footsteps. The cot is a vital addition to the Trust’s maternity suite, preserving a still born baby giving mothers and their loved ones precious time to grieve with their child and create memories. The cold cot donated to CHS also included a touching plaque of remembrance in memory of baby Micky, who was stillborn at the hospital 16 years ago.

The Mayor of Croydon, who thanked staff the Barclays volunteers, said: “There is a great happiness in holding a new child but some women sadly don’t get to experience the joy of holding their new born baby. You do an excellent job here at Croydon Health Services, in sometimes tough situations, and rooms and equipment such as the donations from Abigail’s Footsteps allow parents to show their love and care in supportive environments - this will be absolutely fantastic for women that go through loss.”

The volunteer day was co-ordinated by Belphoebe Lundy, the Trust’s Maternity Bereavement Specialist and CHS Midwife of the Year, who worked tirelessly with Abigail’s Footsteps to ensure the unit can offer the best support to women and their partners when they need it most.

Belphoebe said, “I had my first experience with a grieving family soon after I had qualified as a midwife. It’s extremely important for all midwives to be educated in bereavement support to give women and their partners the best care after their loss.”

Michael Fanning, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust added: “We want to always provide excellent care and support for any women who unfortunately experience pregnancy loss. Thanks to Abigail’s Footsteps and Barclays we now have a room which is much less clinical and a more comforting environment where women and their families are able to grieve and spend time with their baby.”

Highlighting the increase in support given to women experiencing maternal loss, Ann Morling, Director of Midwifery at Croydon Health Services added: “I would also like to thank Belphoebe who, as CHS Midwife of Year, has been instrumental in co-ordinating the day. She has worked extremely hard to implement a number of positive changes that have improved the care given to women who have lost their babies.”

Jane Small from Barclays Corporate Banking said: “We are delighted to support Abigail’s Footsteps and we would like to thank everyone who volunteered their time to make this happen. Alongside our Shared Growth Ambition, Barclays has a fantastic Colleague Community Programme that encourages employees to get involved in the causes we care about. It’s about giving back our skills, time and energy to support our local communities – all the staff involved from Barclays Kent we’re thrilled to have supported this project.”

April Ward from Abigail’s Footsteps said: “Baby loss is a tragic event that no parent should endure. The work we have done at Croydon University Hospital will not take away the pain of that loss but the parents will be forming life long memories whilst in these rooms, so it is important that we can make them as pleasant as possible. We were delighted with the support that we received from Barclays and the hospital maternity team who do a fantastic job.”


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