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Funding cut could see baby cafe shut
A SUPPORT group for new mums faces closure under a wave of council cuts.
The Wallingford Baby Cafe could shut if £5,000 is not found to keep it going for another year.
The volunteer advice group found out last month that Wallingford Children’s Centre could no longer fund it.
Last week it emerged that Oxfordshire County Council was considering closing 37 of its 44 children’s centres to save £9m a year following a £61m cut in Government funding. The centres that could close have not yet been named.
The Wallingford Baby Cafe, a free club for mums every Thursday at Ridgeway Community Church, relies on the support of the children’s centre in Castle Street, which is run by Action for Children.
The group, which gives out advice on the health benefits of breastfeeding, was set up last November with grant cash from the National Lottery, Wallingford Children’s Centre, and parents’ charity the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).
The cash was used to set up the club and train volunteers. It helps more than 100 local mums and has been backed by Joanna Page, star of television comedy Gavin and Stacey.
The actress, who lives near the town, officially opened the cafe in June.
She said: “I thought the members were all so fab. It would be awful if the cafe closed.”
Volunteer Camilla Preece, 30, of Crowmarsh Gifford, said funding would dry up in November.
The mum-of-one said the mums needed to know that support would be there for them for a long time to come.
Mum Anna Milloy, from Cholsey, said the group was important to her.
She said: “The baby café volunteers were very accepting and understanding, letting me talk when I needed to.
“I found the group excellent for help with questions about feeding and other problems, but it’s also a lovely way to meet others.”
The café’s midwife Rachel Fitz-Desorgher urged local firms to consider donating funds to the group.
She said: “It is heartbreaking to think how many mums and babies will suffer for the lack of local, qualified support that the café provides.
“We would ask any companies in the position to support us to strongly consider it.
“How can you put a price on helping mums feed their babies?”
Oxfordshire County Council did not respond for a request for a comment yesterday.
Laurie Long, operational director at Action for Children, said: “We will be working closely with Oxfordshire County Council ... our absolute priority is the wellbeing of the children and young people.”
The baby cafe is staffed by nine volunteer mums who have experience of breastfeeding and have been trained by the National Childbirth Trust. It is open between noon and 2pm at the church on Thursdays.
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