In March 2020, on World Down Syndrome Day, we were going to celebrate our new initiative of giving all new babies born with DS a new baby bag. And then, instead, the whole country went into lockdown!
Prior to that, although we hadn’t done the bags before, parents and babies could meet up together at the DS Clinic most local to them, and form friendships. And they kind of built their own mini support groups, met up regularly and looked out for each other.
But once we hit lockdown, all that disappeared. New families were left very much on their own, adjusting to having a new baby, dealing with the DS diagnosis and negotiating this new journey alone.
In April 2020, NDSSG gave out their first baby bag. Maximus, from Nottingham, was our first ever recipient! Then we heard about another little boy who’d been born, up near Mansfield, called Lucas. The following week, we heard from someone even further afield, up in Retford, so off we went to deliver to Reuben. And then to Willow in Worksop! We realised that driving all over Notts wasn’t the ideal way of doing things, so we tried sending a couple of bags in the post! (Now, the paediatricians give the bags out to any new babies born!)
Alongside this, because we had met a few families, who were all in a similar boat, NDSSG set up an online group for the new mums. This was our first ever Baby Messenger Group! And it has now become our Toddler Messenger Group! Since then, people who were unfortunately missed and didn’t receive a bag – either because we didn’t know about them until their child was a bit older, or because they were born before the bag scheme started.
And we now have 15 members – 4 girls and 11 boys – who range from 18 months to 3 years, in the Toddler Messenger Group (along with a few slightly younger ones who belong to both the baby and toddler groups)! And they are such a lovely, community, who come from all over Notts and support each other! So meet Teddy, Peter, Flo, Maximus, Reuben, Tom, Jeremiah, Willow, Oscar, Lucas, Larna, Louie, Evelyn, Harley and Charlie!