AN OXFORD charity supporting families of sick and premature babies held a series of events to mark the UK's first Neonatal Mental Health Awareness week.

SSNAP (Support for the Sick Newborn and their Parents) based at the John Radcliffe Hospital highlighted the issue of mental health with coffee mornings, discussions and sibling play days.

During a coffee morning on Thursday, one parent explained just how the charity had supported them following the premature birth of their baby: “It’s the little things that make a massive difference.

"When we came to hospital to give birth to our premature baby, everything happened so quickly and it obviously wasn’t planned.

"We didn’t even have anything small enough for him to wear, but SSNAP gave us a goody bag with blankets and tiny hats.

"Little things like that meant that we could cuddle our baby.

“They’ve offered wonderful support.

"They keep us topped up with food and drink and make sure we’re eating and looking after ourselves – with the stress of a premature baby, it’s very easy to forget to take care of yourself, but they’re on-hand to keep you going during a difficult time.

"Friends and family are amazing, but SSNAP understand exactly what you’re going through.”

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The charity was founded 38 years ago by a group of parents at the John Radcliffe Hospital who recognised the need for support and help for families with sick babies.

Now SSNAP help raise funding for equipment, nurse training, and many other things that can help support families in need.

Family Care Co-ordinator at SSNAP Christine Headford, said: "It’s a privilege to help families at what can often be a difficult time."

She added: “Throughout Neonatal Mental Health Awareness week, we’ve held several events including coffee mornings, activities for siblings of poorly babies, and talking to grandparents on the unit.

"We’re here for the whole family, and want them to feel cared for when baby is in hospital.”

For more information on SSNAP visit