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Community grant provides support for new parents in Quebec

By: Kathryn Dunmore, Canadian Red Cross

From labour to breastfeeding and more, being a new mother can be overwhelming so having available community supports when needed is invaluable. This is even more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic when resources and supports can be in high demand. In Quebec, one community-based healthcare organization - Groupe d'entraide Allaitement Sein-Pathique – is helping more than just new mothers – any parent who would like guidance or advice from an experienced mentor can reach out to the program.

Now, thanks to funding from the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund, administered by the Canadian Red Cross, the community group can provide its expertise virtually in order to reach more new parents during the pandemic and beyond.

Jan Kelly, coordinator at Groupe d'entraide Allaitement Sein-Pathique, says forming connections – especially during COVID-19, helps new parents, perhaps even more than the education provided.

“It breaks up the isolation; some people find it’s hard being at home. Right now, that’s a challenge but generally that’s our goal, break up the isolation for people going through this on their own,” said Kelly.
“Fortunately, we had a good system of volunteers set up. We had already matched families with moms who had done training with us. We were able to maintain that support for the moms expecting a baby this winter or spring, or those who already had infants at home. We also did Zoom meetings – we were able to call our membership to see how they were doing, the old-fashioned telephone still worked.”

Felicia Clark pictured with her two daughtersFelicia Clarke was born and raised in Grosse-Ile, one of two English-speaking communities on the Magdalen Islands where the program is offered. Now with two young daughters under the age of four, she says the program has helped her in many ways.

“I used the program with both births,” said Clarke. “The mentor program and the monthly gatherings in our community help you realize that you’re not alone and that many have lived or are living the same experience as you. It’s comforting to build relationships and to be able to ask for help or share your experiences. It made me feel connected just to know there were people we could ask for help, realize there are other moms who had the same experiences as you or went through the same troubles.”

Kelly says it wasn’t until recently that the need to connect, even virtually, was more important than ever. The government funding will go towards creating educational videos for new parents to access online.

“We found people were doing okay in the early months. A lot of women had their partners at home. Now a lot of people are back to work, and a lot of moms are home on their own again,” explained Kelly. “Since June is when it seemed to have hit our members the hardest, even more so than March, April and May. That’s why we’d really like to be able to offer videos. Our project with the Red Cross is to produce videos as an alternative to in-person classes because even if we can offer instruction in person, there are different levels of comfort and anxiety around the transmission of the virus, especially when dealing with infants and pregnancy.

“I think it’s going to be great to have these videos as another tool to inform people about our services, infant feeding and becoming a new parent.”

Find out more about Groupe d'entraide Allaitement Sein-Pathique.

The Canadian Red Cross is funding the continuation of this work thanks to the generous support of the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund granting program.

If your organization is a non-profit that delivers services to those who are the most vulnerable to the health and social impacts of COVID-19 you may also be eligible for grant funding or free personal protective equipment (PPE) and training.

A second round of funding, PPE and training is available until October 30, 2020. For more information, please visit www.redcross.ca/communityorganizations.


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