Middleton woman who set up neonatal charity wins Northern Power Award

Date published: 03 April 2019

A woman from Middleton who founded a neonatal charity has been named the Person with Purpose at the Northern Power Woman Awards.

Kirsten Mitchell, founder of neonatal charity Spoons, was recognised for her pioneering work supporting families in neonatal units in Greater Manchester and beyond.

Now in its third year, the awards scheme celebrates role models as part of a campaign to accelerate gender diversity across the north of England.

Kirsten, 42, set up Spoons three years ago following her own experience when her third child was born at 24 weeks. Following a year of hospital visits, operations and her little boy supported by oxygen, Kirsten found out first hand just how traumatic having a baby in the neonatal unit can be – not just on mothers, but the whole family.

Once the family was discharged from the neonatal unit, Kirsten and her family felt they didn’t have access to adequate emotional or practical support and realised that the help needed doesn’t end when the babies go home. Because of this, they wanted to do something to improve services for other families.

As well as supporting parents with premature babies, Spoons also helps other families on neonatal units who may be there for all kinds of reasons, including babies with rare medical conditions.

Spoons has worked closely with neonatal units across Greater Manchester, including Oldham, helping over 3,000 families to date inlcuding families from Rochdale. Part of the service includes peer-to-peer support, and the charity was one of the first to provide this.

Last year, Spoons started to fund a pilot scheme for professional mental health support for parents, as it’s thought up to 80 per cent of parents who experience neonatal care will experience mental health problems such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The charity received funding for its forward-thinking mental health support from the Postcode Lottery, but this runs out in June.

Kirsten, who was also named Northern Care Alliance’s Volunteer of the Year in 2018, said: “Every year, over 100,000 babies are submitted to neonatal units in England, Scotland and Wales. Whether the babies are full term or premature, it’s a worrying and often traumatic time for families.

“We’re committed to helping as many of these families across Greater Manchester as possible – not only with the practicalities of spending so much time in hospital, but the emotional and psychological support too. My whole family know all too well the impact spending so much time in and out of hospital can have on a family.

“Our aim is to roll out our services across Greater Manchester to help thousands of parents who are receiving neonatal support. Taking a holistic approach to this support, which includes different types of therapy, is a vital step to look after the health and wellbeing of the families who need our support.”

Simone Roche, CEO and founder of Northern Power Women, said: “The judges were extremely impressed with Kirsten’s dedication and compassion, helping hundreds of families across Greater Manchester.

“You can’t underestimate the emotional and psychological impact having a baby on a neonatal unit can have, or the level of support needed once the baby is home. Kirsten’s own experience has helped her shape the service and care that Spoons offers families and we wanted to celebrate her inspirational work and commitment.”

Spoons needs to raise more money in order to continue offering mental health services to families across Greater Manchester.

To make a donation, visit: 

Recognising the need to support the mental health and wellbeing of fathers, Spoons has just launched a regular Dads Meet Up.

For more information, contact Spoons: 

Do you have a story for us?

Let us know by emailing news@rochdaleonline.co.uk
All contact will be treated in confidence.

To contact the Rochdale Online news desk, email news@rochdaleonline.co.uk or visit our news submission page.

To get the latest news on your desktop or mobile, follow Rochdale Online on Twitter and Facebook.

While you are here...

...we have a small favour to ask; would you support Rochdale Online and join other residents making a contribution, from just £3 per month?

Rochdale Online offers completely independent local journalism with free access. If you enjoy the independent news and other free services we offer (event listings and free community websites for example), please consider supporting us financially and help Rochdale Online to continue to provide local engaging content for years to come. Thank you.

Support Rochdale Online