Focusing on Our Venues

After a few questions over the past few days about our venues, I thought I would write a quick blog about them. We run from various locations across the North East, and each has a special place in the fabric that is NESL. Click each venue title for more details or a video. You can find the dates/times of these sessions here.

Slings at Home

img_4377Slings at Home is our oldest session, and quite simply, it is the session I run from my home. Twice a month, I open our doors for a free to attend drop in session. When I started the sling library, our home was a different one, but the reasons for it remain the same. I want you to feel welcome, and as at ease as you would at your own home. Selfishly, we started at home so that my then toddler could nap in his own  cot, and to save on having to charge an entry fee. That toddler is now 9 years old, but running from home, he and his brother have access to their toys and now the PS4.

When you  arrive, just come straight in. Pop your details on the sign in sheet and if you fancy one, make yourself cuppa and enjoy a sweet treat that we always have available. Slings at home runs from my family room/kitchen, so there is plenty of room, toy and refreshments available.  The slings, which are usually stored in my office, are moved int the dining room. This means, if a carrier is in stock, it is here.

This is my home and is not wheelchair accessible as there are 4 steps to enter the house. All our other venues are fully accessible. It is also  case of take us as  you find us. With  full time job, two boys with more clubs than days of the week, and pets, sometimes we aren’t as tidy as I’d like. The animals are not allowed in the house while library is running.

Pulp Fiction Future Food, Whitley Bay

futue foodOur newest session runs from the amazing Pulp Fiction Future Food cafe in Whitley Bay. This session is run by Madeleine. An experienced babywearing mum and now consultant. It is one of our smaller venues but perfect for a sling  library. The food is to die for (vegan).

This venue is accessible from Monkseaton Metro Station and by bus.

 

 

Ace Playce Soft Play, Killingworth

aceWe have been travelling to Ace Playce for several years. It is a huge soft play centre based in the heart of the Killingworth Centre. It is right next door to Morrions. There is huge free car park and easily accessible by bus. This venue does charge an entry fee but babies under 1 year old are free. Sit back, enjoy a drink from the cafe, let your older children burn off some steam and find a carrier that works for you.

The Thought Foundation, Clarity House, Birtleythough

The Thought Foundation is an amazing creative space and art gallery in Birtley. Easily accessible b public transport with the GoNorthEast Angel (no 21) stopping just outside.

It is fully accessible and again has a brilliant cafe serving an array of foods. This session is typically run by Rachel although occasionally Emma (peer supporter). We meet here on the 4th Sunday of the month providing an alternative weekend session. With all travelling venues, it isn’t possible to bring all our stock to this session. A post is put on our Facebook page in run up asking if you have any requests . If a carrier is available, we do our best to bring it.

The Family Hub, North Shields

family

Another of our North Tyneside sessions, the Family Centre in North Shields provides a bright and welcoming home for our North Shields session. The Family Centre is based at 99 Bedford Street and the sling library is there on the 2nd Tuesday of the month (9.30-11.30).

 

 

Baby Equipment Loan Service and Toy Library

bels

The sling library is welcomed once a month to Howdon Community Centre (Denbigh Avenue, Howdon, Wallsend) during the Baby Equipment Loan Service and Toy Library session. This is a popular session with close transport links to the Tyne and Wear Metro. At our last session, visitors to the sling library received a voucher for a free cuppa too. I don’t know if this will always happen but it is always nice if it does.


Any questions about any of our venues, just ask.

 

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Fundraising for Mind – breast pump donation

In February, we successfully crowdfunded over £500 which we split between two charities (Mind and Medicines Sans Frontiers) and the sling library. Well the lovely people at Nuby have once again been exceedingly generous and given us their last remaining stock following redesign and launch of a new pump. That is 40 brand new breast pumps available for new homes for well.,..what ever you think they are worth. We are going to keep some spares here but will have at least 30 to send to new families in return for your donation.

As many of you are aware I have set myself a summer of running and your money will go to the sling library chosen charity – Mind UK. This charity is close to my heart and I have seen first hand the work they do. So far this year, I have already completed RED January, the Sunderland Half and Blaydon Race. In 2 weeks, it is the Great North 10k and 4 weeks today, the Durham City 10k before GNR in September.

Key features of the pump

  • Dual action Electric breast pump set. Product supplied with UK plug and English instructions only.
  • Adapter to allow for use as a manual pump
  • Memorizes personalized rhythm, fast rhythm to encourage milk flow; slow to express gently
  • Flex Neck silicone Horn and hygienic cover
  • Breast pump standing cradle
  • Includes 150ml bottle , a silicone storage lid, 6 disposable breast pads, Breastpump standing cradle.

How to get yours!

1) Make a donation via our JustGiving page. Please ensure you put your name and that it is for a pump.

2) Send is a message via email to rachel@northeastslinglibrary.co.uk to arrange collection.

3) If you can’t collect, we can post but ask that you cover postage and pay this via BACS or friends PayPal. It’s £3.95 for 2nd signed for delivery.

Voila!!

How much can we raise this time? Let’s smash my target and help Mind to help even more families. Mental Health doesn’t just affect one person but the whole family. 1 in 4 people will suffer from mental health issues in their lifetime. Let’s help fight it.

Izmi Baby Toddler Carrier

IZMIAt the sling library, we are lucky to try lots of different carriers. I first saw a prototype of the Toddler size Izmi Baby Carrier at the North Sling Exhibition in 2017 and in December 2017, I was delighted that one arrived here at NESL HQ. Due to family circumstances, it has taken me  until now to blog about it.

Many sling library regulars will know that I am a big fan of ‘unstructured’ structured carriers and there aren’t currently many options in toddler size. Well, I’d add the Izmi Toddler to that category. Like it’s little sister, the Izmi Carrier, the toddler version folds down nice and small but it isn’t just a scaled up version. It has a ‘semi’ structured feel in that it is not a heavy padded carrier. Designed by a carrying consultant, I can tell a lot of thought has gone into how it works.

izmie2

Suitable from approximately 9 months upwards (can be used to 60lb), it fills the gap between baby carriers and toddler carriers. Many parents want to buy a carrier that will last and will, in my opinion, prematurely buy toddler carrier thinking they will save money but in reality find that it is too big for their little one. However, this doesn’t feel too big. We have tried it with babies so far ranging from 14 months to 3 years.  The ability to adjust the waist is perfect. Although this is increasingly common with ‘baby’ size carriers, it is still a rarity with toddler size slings.img_0858

It is suitable for front, back and hip carrying and has the ability to have either crossed or rucksack style straps for front carrying position. The straps are also dual adjustable which allows for ease of tightening in either front or back carry position. Both myself, and Suzie, found that the straps were a little too long for us when we were back carrying with smaller babies but this would be less of an issue as baby gets bigger. The perfect fit adjusters on shoulder straps and chest strap did help provide support. We both did like the ability to spread the straps out to create a ‘wrap’ style shoulder.

The price bracket that this carrier is in, also makes it an attractive option for families. Priced at £80 for the toddler carrier, and available from an increasing number of retailers including Argos, JoJoMaman Bebe, as well as direct from them at Izmi Baby.  It is also possible to hire this, and the standard size version, from us here at NESL. I have a feeling this carrier is going to be rather popular.

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Just giving fundraiser update

Since launching our breast pump just giving page on Wednesday, all but 2 of the pumps have now found new homes!

So far £542 has been pledged – that’s £142 over what I set our target as.

I am utterly thankful for how well this plan has been received. As soon as all the pumps have been allocated and all donations received (some have been offline donations), I will get the final fundraising figure.

The fundraising (eg my running efforts) will continue and I will provide a fresh link so that we can continue to raise money for Mind and MSF. First running challenge is on Sunday 18th March, that’s 4 weeks fine, and is a 10 mile road race.

Doing what is right for me

img_0122.jpgThis is a hard blog to write as its contents will detail changes to how the sling library will be operating but sometimes hard decisions are the right one.

In June 2016, I wrote to say that I was returning to work. The changes that post revealed were relatively small, we were able to maintain almost all of the sessions we offered. This was due to the fact I was working part-time and that Madeleine and Kelly took over sessions. Unfortunately, Durham City Sling Meet stopped meeting in 2017 but Madeleine has taken our North Tyneside sessions from strength to strength.

If I am so happy with the direct the library is taking, why am I sad (and nervous)? Well, as of 28th February, I am returning to work on a full-time  basis. This is the right decision for my family but it does mean that the library is going to have to reduce what it can offer. I am honestly sorry for the short notice but until recently I didn’t even know I would be making this decision.

With immediate effect, the monthly session we hold at the Consett Tesco  Community Room is cancelled. I have already emailed families with a sling due back  to this session to explain and discuss options for returning the slings they have on loan. So far, the response I have received both from the Community Champion from Tesco and the families affected has been 100% positive.

Our North Tyneside sessions (Killingworth, North Shields and Howdon) are unaffected by these changes, as are the Saturday Slings sessions which run from my home on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month – there are a couple of alterations to these for family  holidays/Blaydon Races/GNR weekend but these are minor (and several weeks will be notice given).  Postal hire will continue to be made available across the NE and the UK as a whole.

Our travelling sessions at Miss Tina’s in Washington, and the latest addition to our meets, at The Thought Foundation are continuing until at least the Summer. However, these will be led by a trained Peer Supporter (Emma) and as such will not be for complex needs (low birth weight, prematurity, multiples, additional needs etc), although you are welcome to go along to get an idea of what is available. We will update you in the Summer with whether they will be able to continue beyond this point.IMG_3857

We will still be offering Babywearing Consultation appointments and Born to Carry Peer support training. One to one consultation appointments can be arranged with myself (school holidays), Suzie and Madeline via our booking site or contact us via email at info@northeastslinglibrary.co.uk or using the contact form below.

Since I founded NESL in 2011, I have only ever wanted to help the NE to carry their babies, so returning to full-time employment is a very big step for me. Even though we are reducing the sessions we offer (and thus initially streamlining the number of slings stock slightly – removing duplicates of some slings), our commitment to helping parents to carry their children  remains and we will continue to invest in stock and training. For example, the new Minimonkey Twin sling will be joining library shelves in the coming days and I am completing the JPMBB consultancy course in April.

Best wishes and thank you for your understanding.

Rachel