Branch revival buddies

Kat Whitmore and Sarah Justice

Kat Whitmore (left) is the awesome branch coordinator for West Norfolk. She shouted out to us about the efforts of Sarah Justice (right) bringing her neighbouring branch, Norfolk and Norwich, out of dormancy. Read their stories of volunteers supporting each other, all with the aim to help other parents.

Kat Whitmore, Branch coordinator for West Norfolk

I’ve been Branch Coordinator (BC) for West Norfolk for four years now. In my first year I unfortunately had the sad task volunteering to clear out the storage for our neighbouring Norfolk and Norwich branch as they had gone dormant. Although it seemed like Christmas – because I was a new Coordinator excited about getting the use from lots of their unused toys, banners, balloons etc – at that time I didn’t realise the significance of their dormancy.

As my time as BC went on I met women who’d travelled to our various events. Pregnant or with new tiny babies, I found they lived just outside of West Norfolk branch. Yes you guessed it, they lived in Norfolk and Norwich branch’s area. I have lost count as to the amount of messages, conversations, and emails I’ve had that have started ‘oh yes you would fall under Norfolk and Norwich branch, but unfortunately… they’re dormant’. It was horrible to have to tell them. Expectant parents and new parents at one of their most joyful times of their lives were so disappointed that the groups and support West Norfolk offered weren’t available in their area. Until now!

In the summer of 2018 I was so excited to hear rumblings that the Norfolk and Norwich branch were trying to relaunch. However in October I received the dreaded message on our branch facebook, ‘Please could the Branch Coordinator contact me’. I automatically assumed it was some sort of complaint. I was so pleased I was wrong. Sarah was reaching out, she introduced herself as the new BC for Norfolk and Norwich branch.

And so began the start of a new NCT friendship. Messages have been flying backwards and forwards between us and I have bombarded her with countless emails; copies of agendas, minutes, order forms, event posters, risk assessments, you name it! And guess what? She hasn’t been scared off!

We even met for a pow wow at a soft play, half way between both our branches, so our little ones could play while we chatted. I took her some items back from the storage I’d cleared out years before and we talked about all sorts. From nearly new sales, committee meetings, advertising, babble, toddler groups, goody bags and everything in between!

Sarah was already planning a weekly toddler group and her first event, a Christmas fayre, which she excitedly told me about. She had bundles of enthusiasm and passion. And I since know both have been great successes.

What a brilliant start! I feel a big void has been filled. Norfolk and Norwich branch will now, I hope, go on to support many expectant and new parents. I wish Sarah all the very best for the future and I hope we can continue to remain in great contact as neighbouring branches.

Sarah Justice, Branch Coordinator, Norfolk and Norwich

I first became aware of NCT when researching breastfeeding support roles. NCT’s position statement really resonated with me and it was definitely something I wanted to be involved with. Following an initial interview – with my four month old son in toe – I was accepted onto the Birth and Beyond Foundation Degree.

After completing my first year of university, I moved to Norfolk and was surprised to learn that the Norfolk and Norwich branch was dormant and very few people had heard of the charity. Together with some other women, in October, we attended a branch set up meeting, arranged by one of my fellow student Lorraine Harrison. Just like that, the branch was formed, with me taking the branch coordinator position.

Without Kat’s (West Norfolk Branch Coordinator) support and advice I very much doubt I would have been able to begin our new Tums to Tots group or hold our first event. Kat’s knowledge about NCT and the way the branch works has helped me find my feet in a role that I initially knew nothing about. Kat’s advice has also given me the confidence to seek out volunteers and engage with other branches/professionals.

It was so helpful having a buddy show me the ropes. I’m now aware of the Volunteer Support Team too. The Enquiries team, especially Ash and Helen, have been really helpful.

The Christmas craft gift evening was a learning curve for me. We didn’t have a huge attendance but everyone who did come, donated and had a good time. We made £88 for the night!

To get involved with volunteering for NCT, and search for events near you, find your local branch here.

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