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Frequently Asked Questions about becoming a volunteer Peer Supporter

Breastfeeding Peer Supporters provide a valuable role to new mothers. Volunteers give up their time to offer support and up-to-date information to mothers who may be experiencing breastfeeding issues or who just need some external support from someone who has been there and understands what breastfeeding is like.  

 

Who can apply to become a peer supporter?

 

Our only requirement is that you must have breastfed your baby for at least six months (continuously).  This includes feeding expressed breastmilk and combination feeding.  We are happy to accept applications from mothers of any age – you do not need to currently have a baby or young child.  It doesn’t matter whether you found breastfeeding easy and straightforward or if you struggled and had lots of problems; all we ask is that you are passionate about breastfeeding and wish to support mothers in a non-judgement, empathetic way.  Places on our training courses are limited and will be allocated to those women who our committee feel will be most suited to the training.

 

What does the training involve?

 

Our peer supporter training course typically consists of ten two hour weekly sessions in York.  Training is given by two experienced International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) and the course covers areas such as how breastfeeding works, how to tackle common breastfeeding problems and counselling and listening skills.  The sessions involve group discussions, role play and lots of practical exercises.

 

How much does the training course cost?

 

This training course is funded by Treasure Chest and is free of charge to applicants as we do not wish costs to be a factor in anyone applying to become a peer supporter.  

 

What if I am a midwife/health visitor or doula (or planning to become one)?

 

We offer a small number of self-funded places for current and prospective midwives/doulas/health professionals which cost £250.  Please indicate on the application form if you fall into this category.

 

What if I can’t make all of the training sessions on the course?

 

If an absence is unavoidable then our trainers will discuss ways of catching up on your training with you.

 

Can I bring my baby/child to the training sessions?

 

Babes-in-arms are welcome to join us but unfortunately we don't allow older babies or children at the sessions as it's just too distracting.  If the costs of childcare would be a barrier to you doing the training then please contact us to discuss.

 

What happens when I’ve finished my training?

 

All newly-trained peer supporters must undertake around six months’ worth of shadowing an experienced peer supporter at one of our daytime support groups in York (typically you might attend once a fortnight).  Exactly how long this will take depends on how often you attend the group and how quickly you feel confident about speaking to mums by yourself.  It's fine for you to bring your baby/child with you.

 

How much time will I need to spend volunteering once I’ve trained?

 

This is really up to you.  It could be as little as an hour or two a month or as much as you’d like it to be.  We do ask that you try to commit to volunteering in the long term, where possible, as training new peer supporters is expensive.  You may wish to carry on peer supporting at one of our weekly groups, help at our monthly antenatal workshops or answer posts on our Facebook group.  You can also do some additional training which allows you to peer support mums on the maternity ward at York Hospital.

 

As well as peer supporting, as a member of Treasure Chest you might wish to become involved with fundraising, PR, events, finance, social media or the general organisation of our group.  We hold regular committee meetings and an annual general meeting which all peer supporters are welcome to attend.

 

Can I become a peer supporter if I work full time?

 

There are several ways in which you can volunteer with us out of normal full time office hours, such as at our monthly Saturday morning antenatal workshop or hospital visiting on an evening.  However, we do require you to complete your six month shadowing period at one of our daytime support groups (attending perhaps twice a month).  Some mums find that their employers are supportive and able to accommodate this.  

 

What ongoing support will I receive as a peer supporter?

 

We offer regular update training sessions and all peer supporters are expected to attend at least 2 of these per year in order to keep their skills and knowledge up to date.  We have a closed Facebook group for peer supporters where you can ask any questions and discuss any issues.  If you need to speak to someone privately then you are welcome to contact a member of the committee.

 

How can I apply to become a peer supporter?

 

Please check our training courses page for information about current courses.  You will be required to complete an application form and provide two references.

 

 

If you have any other questions about training to become a peer supporter or what being a peer supporter involves then please email us at applications@treasurechest.org.uk

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