Sensory project helps new mums cope with lockdown

Hundreds of families have been helped through lockdown with a sensory project for new mums to cope with lockdown.

Clart About, based in Consett, used to support families in person through its sensory café. But when lockdown arrived, founder Lynn Hammel transformed her knowledge and approach to meet the circumstances.

Since 2014 Clart About has offered a sensory café and support for mums to celebrate their parenting journey together.

Lynn founded the venture after her own experiences with antenatal and post-natal depression and anxiety. She wanted to help other mums going through the same.

In March 2020 the cafe closed because of lockdown. Lynn decided to make bags of sensory gifts and offer online help to families in need.

A grant of £4,966 was awarded from County Durham Community Foundation, with support from the EMG Solicitors Fund of £2,016 to deliver this project.

Challenging times

As new mums struggled without the help of family and friends, Clart About was there to help.

Lynn said “We wanted a way to continue our support for new parents and we created a phone line support and out-of-hours text service. This wasn’t enough. Parents were missing the social side of classes and interacting with their children in a fun environment.

“We ran a pilot in the summer of small sensory bags and this was very successful. We then created an online Facebook group and parents joined in the class with their babies from home.

Good health and wellbeing

“As the months went on we were gaining more interest from mums and we were able to open briefly for five weeks in the summer. Since the start of the pandemic, we have now supported more than 650 families.

“The funding allowed us to create hundreds of sensory bags which included hand puppets, scent pots, foil blanket, light up toys and much more. We put a post on Facebook and ask people to share with new mums. Within days we had 297 requests.

“The bags have now been shared with families across the county including mums from Hexham, Crook, Seaham and Durham.

“We believe a happy mummy means a happy baby, and we want new mums out there to know we are here for them.”

Lynn is now hoping to reopen the sensory café this year, in line with government guidelines.

She said: As a parent of five children myself, I appreciate how expensive educational play sessions for children can be. I also understand how important play is for aiding children’s learning and development in the early years.

We started by running one messy play class a week. We then moved on to develop a range of classes to help both new parents and their little ones through the transition of early parenthood and right through until school, with various sessions tailored to suit.