YOUNG mothers who experience loneliness can find a "lifeline" at
church-run toddler groups, a mother who was once among them said on
She is Joanna Gordon, founder of the charity Daniel's Den. Mrs
Gordon said that the findings of a survey suggesting that more than
a quarter of new mothers (28 per cent) were lonely rang true to her
own experience, and that the Church was on the front line of
tackling the problem.
"When I had my son, 18 years ago, I was in London, and all my
family were in North Yorkshire," she said. "I was sat at home
realising that all my friends were at work and I didn't know anyone
in my local area. The sense of loneliness was very real. From that,
God gave me idea to start Daniel's Den."
Now a registered charity, Daniel's Den runs five parent and
toddler groups around Brent, working with about 250 families a
year, and meeting in churches and schools.
"We know there are people in our community feeling very lonely
and very isolated," Mrs Gordon said. "We are working with about 45
different nationalities and many of the women or fathers who come
only know their husband or wife and their doctor. . . There is no
support network. And there are others who feel very lonely because
they do not feel they can be real with people. People always talk
about toddler groups being like a lifeline."
The online survey of 3000 mothers, carried out last month by
Netmums and AXA PPP Healthcare, found that a quarter of mothers had
no family living near by, and 28 per cent said that they had not
made any new friends since giving birth.
The Vicar of St Paul's, Dorking, the Revd Ruth Bushyager, said
on Tuesday that, with two young daughters of her own, and having
experienced "the loneliness and difficulties of that stage of life
being", she was "especially on the look-out for ways to bless young
mums and connect them with the community of church family".
The church runs a café every weekday morning for mothers, run by
older mothers and grandmothers. Conversations about faith had
sometimes led to discussions about baptism. There are also a
midweek group and Bible-study groups for mothers and baby-music
classes. The Sunday service has been de signed to be "highly
welcoming . . . for young mums with new babies".
Mrs Gordon also helps to lead 1277, a national strategy for
church-based toddler groups, of which there are at least 20,000 in
the country (1277 is the average number of days between being born
and starting nursery education).