And on the subject of farce….

17 10 2008
Still think it’s A Good Thing, that breastfeeding is being normalised in our culture, as Just Another Thing To Laugh About. Although I suspect some people might not find the humour to their taste.
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It has echoes of this statue, in the Neptune fountain in Bologna…

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A Comic Look At Breastfeeding

15 10 2008

Apart from being really funny in places.. isn’t it really good that finally, breastfeeding is normal enough just to be another thing to use in a stand up routine? 🙂





If you complained to your MP about Baby C…

13 10 2008

… you need to read the following letter.

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It was sent out earlier today, to several concerned parties who have been working hard to protect children in Yarl’s Wood, many who have been supporting Baby C and her family directly. It’s apparently Quite A Big Deal, for a junior Minister to send out letters to MPs that aren’t… ahem … factually accurate. There, and you thought I wasn’t capable of tact, didn’t you?
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Believe me, in terms of the meeting that did take place at Yarl’s Wood, you have no idea how tactful I can be. Nor how much I can keep my big mouth shut about things.
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You should read the letter….
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It’s come to my attention that on September 30th, a letter was sent out by Meg Hillier, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, at the Home Office. The letter was sent to several MPs, who had enquired on behalf of their constituents, about the treatment on Baby C in Yarl’s Wood, in June 2008. Namely, that a prescription formula milk for Baby C had been allowed to run out, and the baby had been left unfed for over 18 hours.
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In this letter, Meg Hillier assures MPs that Brian Pollett and Jeremy Oppenheim were reviewing this case personally. She states that a meeting had been set up with Mrs Alison Blenkinsop, and other concerned parties, with Brian Pollett and Jeremy Oppenheim:
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“In addition, Brian Pollett and Jeremy Oppenheim have also arranged to meet with Mrs Blenkinsop and other concerned parties to discuss this issue and seek an appropriate way forward. I am confident that any recommendations resulting from these measures will be fully considered and, where appropriate, implemented.”
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I have to inform you that this is factually incorrect.
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Neither Jeremy Oppenheim, nor his office, has had any contact with Mrs Blenkinsop, and no such meeting is planned. Brian Pollett has responded personally to Mrs Blenkinsop, in the past, and a meeting with his staff, Mrs Blenkinsop and myself, took place some time ago: Brian Pollett was not present. There simply isn’t any meeting, that we are aware of, with Brian Pollett, Jeremy Oppenheim and Mrs Blenkinsop.
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On 15th September, two weeks prior to this letter going out to MPs, Mrs Blenkinsop and myself did attend a meeting at Yarl’s Wood. Present were UK Border Agency staff, considerably junior to Mr Pollett and Mr Oppenheim, and Serco staff. The meeting was not fruitful, and all present refused to allow me permission to name those in attendance, or to agree on any quote that could be taken from the meeting.
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In fact, at the start of the meeting, a Serco staff member directly addressed the Border Agency person chairing the meeting, and apparently jokingly said something like “Be careful what you say to her, she’ll put it on the internet.”
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I did mention during the meeting that Transparency and Accountability were key tenets of our current Government, but those points did not appear to be taken on board.
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Of the meeting, I can only report the following, but alas, have no quotes approved by UK Border Agency upon them:
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1) UK Border Agency accepted that there had been an ‘issue’ and that the formula should have been brought in on time. They declined to name this ‘issue’, not agreeing to it being called a ‘failing’, a ‘communication breakdown’ or otherwise. They assured us this administrative ‘issue’ would not arise again. When pushed, the chair asked us to write to him, with wording, to see what he would approve. I’ve not yet had a chance to do this.
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2) UK Border Agency refused to accept there was any problem with the standard of Baby C’s care, whatsoever, once the formula had run out. There was simply no leeway on this, and they refused point blank to accept that there was anything wrong with the baby going hungry for this amount of time. Serco asked that we consider the time Baby C was without formula to be 15 hours, not 18, in respect to her being fed as the formula ran out. We agreed to this, as it made little difference to the facts – that the baby was left unfed for so long. Mrs Blenkinsop made the point several times, that it was simply unacceptable for a baby to be left unfed for this amount of time, and UK Border Agency refused to accept this was not an appropriate standard of care. They directed us to the GP who had advised oral hydration sachets on the phone. Mrs Blenkinsop pointed out a doctor’s advice on the phone was only as good as the information given to them, and that Yarl’s Wood had the care of this baby. These points were consistently denied, and absolutely no admission that the baby had suffered from being hungry for so long, was conceded. If we wished to take this further, the mother must formally complain to Serco about the Dr’s advice, and that was an end to it.
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Therefore, I have to refer back to Meg Hillier’s words in her letter, “I am confident that any recommendations resulting from these measures will be fully considered and, where appropriate, implemented.” and inform you that, unfortunately, I’m not aware of any such process taking place. As UK Border Agency made it clear that there was no problem with Baby C being ‘cared for’ in this manner, nothing is being considered with a view to implementation. Not from our meeting, at least.
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On that, there is only one other point in the meeting that I am free to discuss. When I had alerted Brian Pollett, by email, the evening that the baby was not being fed, and urged him to intervene immediately, I had also asked him to get an answer as to why a previous letter of mine to Yarl’s Wood, had never been answered.
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In April 2008, I had been supporting a mother being denied lactation support for her breastfeeding baby at Yarl’s Wood, and had been told by the head of healthcare, to put it in writing. I had sent in an extremely detailed letter asking for information on several aspects of infant feeding and breastfeeding support at Yarl’s Wood.
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I had never received a reply, despite cc’ing the letter to a considerable amount of UK Border Agency staff, and other interested parties.
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I received a letter shortly after, from Gill Foley, at UK Border Agency, informing me in no uncertain terms that I had been answered fully. She even supplied the approximate dates of emails and letters that had been sent to me. I asked for copies.
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At the meeting on the 15th, Serco apologised to me, as no such letters, or evidence of them, could be found. There was no explanation for this, and none to be found. When pushed to find a way to describe how a contractor had assured a Government department that legitimate letters of concern had been answered, when no record of such could be found… UK Border Agency refused to agree on how to describe it. “Lies”, “misinformation” and “communication breakdown” were all negated by UK Border Agency.
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When, as the injured party, I pushed that I felt I had a right to a reasonable explanation, I was told that the member of staff concerned was no longer in their employ and there was therefore nothing more to be said.
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It is of note that I have not received an apology from UK Border Agency.
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In light of the subsequent letter from the Home Office, detailing the non-existing meeting to be held to discuss the issues on Baby C, I feel it pertinent to raise this prior situation, illuminating UK Border Agency’s track record on correspondence on such matters.
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For my own part, I will be blogging later on today, to advise all constituents who had previously complained to their MPs, to contact them with this letter, and to alert them to the factual inaccuracies in Meg Hillier’s letter.
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Mrs Blenkinsop can be contacted independently via her website: http://www.linkable.biz/
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Yours
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Morgan Gallagher
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– – –
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Sigh.
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It’s only the Mums that continue to fight on this one, I sometimes feel. I found out about this letter from a Mum on MumsNet, and then asked around to find lots of Mums-who-complained-to-their-MPs had been sent it. My MP hadn’t sent it to me. edit: Well, who’hav’thunk. My MP, of all people, as Yarl’s Wood is in his constituency, hadn’t had a copy of the letter sent to him! Ho hum.
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Am I surprised? No, not any more. Am I shocked? No. Not feeding a baby is what shocked me. Defending those actions, no matter what… that’s not shocking, that’s obscene.
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If you have complained to your MP before hand, please get in touch with them asap, even if you haven’t had a response from this about this letter – and let them know. As I said, it’s apparently Quite A Big Deal for a letter like this to go out. If you haven’t complained to your MP yet, maybe now if the time to do so. Put your postcode in here.
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If you read the original letter from Meg Hillier, you’ll find comments about things being published on the internet. This has happened several times – some MPs have even said in their responses to Mums, that there is only a fuss as it’s on the internet. As if being in a network, where human beings – tax payers and voters – share knowledge and information on what our Government is doing, in our name, is A Bad Thing?
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Thanks heavens for the internet!!!!
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And Mums.
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I refuse to finish this post feeling so down! I’ll leave you with a smile on your face…




La Leche League

8 10 2008
During the next few weeks, I plan to do a spotlight on the various breastfeeding support agencies, both in the UK, and abroad. If you would like to have your support network spotlighted, please send me some blurb, and illustrations. First up is… La Leche League GB. “La Leche” is Spanish for “The Milk”!
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Edit: if you are reading this on Safari, with an Apple, half the post isn’t here. Sorry. We’ve tried fixing it for you, but as everyone else can read it, we can’t nail what the HTML problem is. It’s at the Safari/apple end.
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La Leche League aims to help mothers to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information and education and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.
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Founded in 1956 by a group of seven mothers in the USA, La Leche League (LLL) today has more than 3,000 groups meeting in 62 countries, with over 8,000 accredited Leaders (breastfeeding counsellors) worldwide.

Leaders accredited by LLL are mothers who have breastfed for 12 months or longer and who believe in LLL’s philosophy of mothering, which centres on the baby’s needs. All Leaders are trained in breastfeeding management, counselling and group management skills.

At its inception, LLL was a pioneer of self-help and peer support, and its mother-to-mother breastfeeding help has been at the heart of LLL’s work ever since. Local groups have been offering support and information to women in England, Scotland and Wales since the late 1960s. Currently there are close to 80 groups meeting around Great Britain. Within their local communities, Leaders help breastfeeding mothers at meetings, by telephone, in person and by email. Many local LLL groups are involved in other breastfeeding initiatives and Leaders often work locally with health professionals.

Working at grassroots level, LLL groups have behind them the resources from a repository of the world’s most complete and up-to-date information on breastfeeding.

LLLGB publishes leaflets and information sheets covering many breastfeeding subjects useful to both mothers and health professionals. Breastfeeding Matters is the charity’s flagship magazine. It publishes bi-monthly and contains…

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– articles by mothers sharing their own personal breastfeeding experience
– help from La Leche League, the recognised source of the world’s most complete and up-to-date information on breastfeeding.
– tips on parenting, stories in the news, breasfteeding research and publications
-beautiful illustrations with photos and cartoons every issue
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To see these and other resources, including books published by La Leche League International (LLLI), visit:

http://www.lllgbbooks.co.uk/

Help for individual mothers is free of charge, and you do not have to join in order to either ask for help, or attend meetings. The National Helpline 0845 120 2918 connects mothers directly to an accredited Leader, while the organisation’s website includes an online help form to which an individual Leader responds to help each mother directly with her particular concerns.

LLL believes that every mother is the expert on her individual child and is best placed to make her own parenting decisions. Mothers are so often bombarded by conflicting advice and LLL encourages them to follow their instincts. While seeking to dispel the myths surrounding breastfeeding and to replace them with facts, LLL is respectful and supportive of mothers’ differing choices.

Women expecting a baby, new mothers, experienced mothers, those struggling to breastfeed, women enjoying breastfeeding, those wanting to wean or mothers interested in supporting other mothers to breastfeed … all who approach LLL will be supported in their decision to breastfeed.

UK Phone Number For Immediate Breastfeeding Support:

0845 120 2918

UK Online Support

La Leche League International: Support Menu Page
Join LLLGB and subscribe to Breastfeeding Matters At only £20 for an annual subscription (£12 unwaged), it’s a must for breastfeeding and pregnant mums as well as anyone who is helping them, health professionals, friends and relatives. Individual issues can be purchased here.
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If you are cancelling your Oxfam sub…

6 10 2008
… don’t let the money, or the protest, get lost.
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Do two other things at the same time. Set up a new sub for the money, to an organisation that will take your money, help hungry babies, and not promote bottle feeding (unwittingly or otherwise).
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Write to Oxfam and make it clear why you have cancelled your sub.
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These people could do with your money, and they won’t promote bottle feeding:
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