Amma Birth Companions has been awarded Maternity Service of Sanctuary status, recognising its support and welcome for people seeking sanctuary. The title, the first of its kind in Scotland, was awarded by City of Sanctuary UK, a nationally coordinated network of organisations and services, including councils, universities, theatres and libraries that welcome and support refugees and people seeking asylum.
2020 has been a difficult year. When the business of normal life came to a stop, many people struggled with feelings of isolation—especially those with new babies. For mothers like Erica and Alvina, the Amma Mamas online peer support group created an opportunity to form a lasting friendship, even during lockdown.
“Being alone and pregnant in a new environment is quite challenging. I didn’t have anyone to support me but Amma was there for me.”The experience of being pregnant in a new city, separated from friends and loved ones, is one Erica and Alvina share. Alvina says, “I was on my own and didn’t have anyone. I was pretty scared.”
The Amma Mamas peer support group was set up during lockdown to help reduce isolation among the individuals supported by Amma.
Alvina says, “When the lockdown started, no one knew what to do—but Amma, very helpfully, supported all the mums. They sorted out phones and internet to make sure everyone was equipped so we could stay digitally connected.”
Erica describes it as a “great platform where mothers can interact with each other.”
The group continues to meet every Friday on Zoom. According to Alvina, it’s somewhere mums “can talk, share ideas and help each other through the lockdown period”.
Alvina and Erica, who met through Amma Mamas, talk about how grateful they are to have become friends. Erica says, “Alvina and I connected instantly—even on Zoom—so when we met in person, it was like we had been friends forever.
I have learned so much from her and I am grateful I have a sister that I met through Amma. I know our friendship will continue forever.”
Alvina also talks about their instant connection, saying “I am grateful I have met this wonderful person and ultimately, I am thankful to Amma. Erica inspires me and I love her energy. I now have a friend for life.”
Creating a platform where mums can connect and become friends is so important to Amma. Although our intention was always to establish an in-person peer support group, we couldn’t let the pandemic stop us from continuing our efforts to help parents feel less isolated.
Alvina says, “I really struggled throughout the lockdown. It was just me and my very young baby at the time so the support I got from Amma was really valuable. They were my lifeline.”
Erica also talks about the support she received through lockdown: “Amma supported me emotionally and supported me physically. Even though my family is not here, Amma is like a family to me. The mentors really care for you and love you. I didn’t expect that but I got it.”
Amma is more than just a charity—we are a family. We work together and care for each other. Our goal is to provide the support and compassion that every new parent deserves.
Erica says “Amma is a guardian angel to me. They’ve been there for me and they are a family to me. I am grateful for the mums and the Amma staff.” And according to Alvina, “Amma has been my lifeline. I am forever connected to a sisterhood. I am grateful to be part of this family.”
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Ten years of nannying and nursery school teaching stood Sam Morgan-Hutchings in good stead for supporting people as they become new parents. The essential skills remain the same; nurturing, caring, cheering people on and helping them to find their own way knowing that one day they will no longer be there to hold hands.