BIRTHDAY cake and party balloons greeted mums in Florence Park to celebrate the first anniversary of a group created to help those struggling with their mental health.

The Motherkind Cafe, set up by three local women to be a mum and baby group ‘with a difference’, set aside its usual session on Friday to hold a party at Flo's Place in the Park.

Sharing pictures of the gathering on Facebook, organisers posted: “Thank you so much to everyone who joined us today to help celebrate a year of The Motherkind Cafe.

"And big, big heartfelt thanks to all the volunteers that have given us their time for free.”

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The cafe offers free peer support for mothers who are worried about their mental health or who are finding motherhood tough for any reason and would like to have an ‘honest conversation about their emotional wellbeing’ or find out where they can get help locally.

Since starting in January 2019, the group has put on 42 sessions, supported 93 women and trained 17 ‘peer supporters’.

It was initially set up by mums Guin Webster, Becca Knowles-Bevis and Emily Malden.

Ms Webster and Ms Knowles-Bevis are both clinical psychologists with experience in perinatal mental health and they have been involved with voluntary groups in Oxford that support mothers and children for many years.

Oxford Mail:

Ms Malden suffered with postnatal anxiety after the birth of her son in 2017 and said she found ‘very little’ support available for mothers with small children unless their mental illness was ‘very acute’.

She said: “When I went to see my GP to say I was struggling, I was offered medication and a couple of website addresses, and as I didn’t meet the criteria for urgent help, the wait for perinatal mental health treatment was going to be a long one. What I needed was face-to-face support and a place to talk to other women who might be feeling the same.”

A post on The Motherkind Cafe's Facebook explained sessions were 'a bit like' a play group, with toys and mats for children to enjoy, chairs for the mums and hot drinks and cake on offer.

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It added: "The difference is, we don’t have to have a ‘lip service’ conversation about motherhood. Our sessions aren’t necessarily just to discuss weight percentiles or development milestones. We can talk about loneliness, a loss of identity, changes in relationships, mood changes, mental health, feelings you’ve never had before....but only if you want to."

All of the peer supporter volunteers are mums themselves and many have experience of a postnatal mental health condition.

For those that need it, the group can also offer advice about where to find further support. The group is entirely volunteer run and funded by donations.

No referral or booking is needed, it is free to attend and women can bring their babies or preschool children to the session. For more information visit the group’s Facebook page by searching The Motherkind Cafe or email Sessions are held every Friday between 10.30 and 11.45am.