Bags of Hope at the Pramble

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It was sunshine, and not so many showers, for this year’s ‘Portstewart Pramble’.

More than 50 parents, grandparents, carers and children from two local parent and baby group’s took part in the pram push which was held last Saturday morning (May 20).

Now in it’s fifth year, this year’s Pramble was raising vital funds for ‘Bags of Hope’ by Have you seen that girl? which helps parents who suffer from postnatal depression.

Teenie Tots and Baby Zone, which hold weekly meetings at Portstewart Baptist Church, chose the charity after local mum, Lindsay Robinson, who suffers from PND, decided to set up an online blog and website called ‘Have you seen that girl?’ which shares tales of life, motherhood and recovering from postnatal depression.

After having her son Reuben over three years ago, Lindsay came to Baby Zone once however became too ill and never came back.

It took over two years for Lindsay to be diagnosed, and since then she has found solace writing her blogs and has recently started to design Bags of Hope to be given to mums and dads who are struggling to cope.

Lindsay who grew up in Portstewart and attended the Baptist Church explained: “Becoming a mum or dad is a major life change. Being a mum or dad is not always easy or straightforward, whether you struggle with a mental health issue or not. Everyday is different – some are fun and fulfilling, others can be long and lonely. We experience so many different emotions – excitement, joy and pride in our little ones; to being afraid, anxious and overwhelmed – sometimes all in the space of 24 hours!

“Bags of Hope are simply an encouragement, and a reminder, that even on the darkest days there is light and hope and that you are not alone.

“Reuben (who is now 3.5) loves to help me when I’m filling the bags or doing a delivery… he knows they are called “Bags of Hope” and says they are for “people who aren’t feeling very well”.

“The bags were crowdfunded and have also been supported by a number of local businesses. At present, we have funding to create around 1500 bags.”

Each bag includes a ‘Have you seen that girl?’ leaflet (kindly printed by NI Design) and colouring book and pencils (personally designed for us by Molly Cara Murray, a local young women who is an art student at the Ulster University), a candle (sponsored by Give INC), tea bags (donated by Thompson Tea in Belfast), chocolate and sweets (kindly donated by Lynas Food Service, Coleraine), a voucher for Tribal Fitness Session and special Discount Voucher for Bambino Massage NI.

Lindsay, who now lives in Belfast with her husband Gavin and Reuben, added: “My plan is to get these bags in the hands of parents all over Northern Ireland. You don’t need to have an official diagnosis of Perinatal Mental Illness to know that parenting can be tough, at times. I hope to bring them to events where I am asked to share my story or speak with mums and dads; to work with local charities, groups and organisations who are organising events about Mental Health & Wellbeing and provide them for those; as well as getting them into the hands of individuals (made known to me) who are struggling.

“Over the coming year, or so, I hope to run out of supplies – that will be a job well done! At that point, I will discuss with a team how to proceed, but I will actively continue to look for sponsorship. My dream would be that every parent, after giving birth, is given one of these Bags to take home with them. With a birth rate of approx 25,000 each year in NI that’s a huge task… but nothing is impossible… right?!”

Thanks to the support of the local community a staggering £381.30 was raised at the Pramble which will help Lindsay continued her work.

Lindsay added on her Faecbook site: “WOW!! What an amazing morning with two parent groups in Portstewart Baptist Church - Baby Zone and Teenie Tots with Karen Cox and team. They organised a Pramble to raise money for Have you seen that girl? Bags of Hope - £381.30! Amazing!! It was lovely to go along the event, meet with and to chat with the mums, dads and all the volunteers. Massive thank you to all involved!”

Karen from Baby Zone concluded: “Unfortunately postnatal depression affects many mothers and Lindsay truly is an inspiration. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family and we wanted to show our support by choosing Bags of Hope as this year’s Pramble charity.

“Over the years the Pramble has raised a lot of much needed money for various charities close to our hearts including the Bubble Foundation for Oscar, Children’s Hospice in Northern Ireland, Abigail’s Fund which is part of Mission Africa and Macmillan Cancer.

“We would all just like to thank everyone who supported our Pramble. Massive thanks go to those who took part in the walk, those who made and dished out the refreshments for the thirsty and hungry walkers and to anyone who gave a donation of time and money - it made the morning such a great success.

“Finally, I would like to send a huge hug to Oscar, Alice and their granny who once again came along to support us. We did our first Pramble to raise funds for Oscar five years ago and it’s great to see him doing so well and helping us raise funds at an event which originally began for him.

“Amazingly we have raised over £381 and money is still coming in which really is something to be proud of.”

Finally, huge appreciation goes to Portstewart Baptist Church for the use of their venue and facilities.

Teenie Tots meets every Monday from 10am to 11.30am and Baby Zone (babies under 12 months) meets every Friday in Portstewart Baptist Church from 2pm to 3.30pm. Members, new and old, are always welcomed and the groups will resume in September.

If you’d like more information about Bags of Hope email Lindsay at haveyouseenthatgirl@outlook.com or go to her website at www.haveyouseenthatgirl.com/