If we have been a little quiet on the blog recently, it is because all collective efforts have been focused on our birthday party and celebration in Parliament. The big day came around on Monday 19 October, when we finally saw the hard work pay off.
One of our trustees, Tulip Siddiq MP, had organised a beautiful room in the House of Commons and we invited some of our service users, friends and family members to join us – as well as perinatal mental health campaigners, commissioners, professionals and other charity workers. The trustees all worked together to lay on some food and drink, and we also provided leaflets and information on the work of Cocoon.
It was a great success! Whew!
We hugged, laughed, cried and were left completely enthused for the future of this charity. We were welcomed by Tulip, and also addressed by Luciana Berger MP (shadow cabinet member for mental health, and a real supporter of perinatal mental health services).
Dr Sarah Taha (consultant perinatal psychiatrist in Hammersmith and Fulham) presented the incredible new cartoon commissioned by her working group at NHS England. The animation features a range of voices (including one dad who will be familiar to many at Cocoon!), from families through to commissioners. It describes the problems in perinatal services and what a good service should look like. It’s a powerful tool. Sarah and her NHS England college Temo Donovan are working on a project to improve perinatal services across London, and it was a real pleasure to introduce them to several of our mums who are keen to join the working group as “experts by experience”.
A similar highlight was introducing one of our south London mums to Elaine Hanzak, herself a survivor of severe postnatal mental illness – and now the author of the fantastic new book “Another Twinkle in the Eye: contemplating pregnancy after perinatal mental illness”. We had loaned this mum our copy of Elaine’s book and it was incredible to see her connect with Elaine. We are so proud to be able to bring people together in this way!
Another well known campaigner, Mark Williams, gave a short talk about his experience as a dad who suffered from PTSD and depression following his son’s birth. Reaching out to dads and other family members is a mission for us here at Cocoon and we will be working closely with Mark and his team at Dads Matter UK to make this happen.
Finally, we took some time to show our thanks and appreciation for Cocoon’s founder Jessica Warne. Jessica has poured her heart and soul into this work over the last four years. She is the beating heart of Cocoon and she inspires all of us every day with her compassion, tenacity and skill. There was no holding back the tears as her beautiful daughter presented Jessica with a (very heavy!) bouquet of flowers.
A huge thank you to everyone who made this day happen, and everyone who has been with us on the Cocoon journey so far. In particular, Jessica, Rosie and Kathryn would like to thank our partners who have contributed to Cocoon’s success – in particularly Mind in Camden, Coin Street Family Centre, the Sheriff Centre, Nordoff Robins, our drama and art therapists Kathy and Lily, all our counsellors and our wonderful Trustees and dedicated volunteers.
Here is to the future of Cocoon and all the families we support!