NUTRITIOUS nibbles, travel support and a milestone 500 meals for exhausted parents; helping little hands is making waves at King Edward Memorial Hospital.
Founded after two sets of parents met each other in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the support network for families of premature babies has served up hundreds of home-cooked meals with assistance from Wembley’s Blue Spoon.
Helping little hands co-founder Joanne Beedie said the group had in fact surpassed around 580 meals after the busy Christmas period.
“Parents don’t eat well, it’s the last thing on their minds, and a hot meal gives you an extra hour with your baby,” she said.
“We usually look after between five and eight families with meals, but it was 12 over Christmas; we started planning for it in October.”
The Wembley mum of three juggled her third pregnancy during this planning period, and had previously spent 12-and-a-half weeks in the NICU with son Lewis, who was born at 27 weeks.
It was there Ms Beedie began to talk to eventual helping little hands co-founder Kate Crassweller; their sons were ‘bedside buddies’.
“It’s a funny environment to make friends in,” she said.
“We realised there was so much to do around practical needs of parents.”
Blue Spoon owner Jane Nesbitt said Ms Beedie and her family had been regular visitors to the Cambridge Street eatery, which turns out chef-prepared meals to go.
“[Ms Beedie’s husband] Scott originally asked me about donating food, he had me in tears in about five minutes,” she said.
“I haven’t been closely affected myself, but it’s something you don’t think of; not everyone has family support.
“In Joanne and Scott’s case, they came from the UK and had no support.”
The voluntary service is invaluable for parents, particularly those from the country or isolated from support networks.
Ms Beedie said families spent anywhere from three to 14 weeks in the NICU, with many hitting a wall after the six week mark; but she said the camaraderie and feeling inside the parents’ lounge had changed in recent times.
“The feedback we get is that it’s a lifesaver,” Ms Beedie said.
“These words are cliche, but it’s so rewarding.”
To find out more about helping little hands, head to helpinglittlehands.org.
Blue Spoon, Life Ready physiotherapy centres and Karibu Cafe also collect non-perishable food donations for families.