Mums Supporting Mums

Mums Supporting Mums

Name of organisation/business: 
Outside the Box
£9,945.03 from Scottish Borders LEADER
Scottish Rural Development Programme priority: 
Supporting rural communities
Contact details: 0141 419 0451 Outside the Box, Unit 23, Festival Business Centre, 150 Brand St, Glasgow G51 1DH



Across Scottish Borders

What are the aims of your project?

The main aim is to develop activities led by mums with young children who live in rural areas, as a way of supporting each other and being less isolated. 

Social isolation is not good for parents or their children. Around one in three mums have not-so-good mental well-being in the few years after having a baby. Feeling part of a community and having peer support from other mums can make a big difference, but it can be more of a challenge for people living in small rural communities.

How did your project achieve these aims?

Mums Supporting Mums brings together mums, with babies and young children, who want to help themselves and others by setting up different types of peer support that fit in with their lives and circumstances and in particular meet the needs of mums living in rural areas.

The first stage ran from February – August 2013. Some of the local activities in the included

  • Buggy walking group in Eyemouth
  • Groups of mums (dads and grans) meeting in cafes in Walkerburn, Galashiels and Eddleston
  • New toddler group in Walkerburn
  • Bookbug sessions in Heriot with the mobile library.

There is more information about the project in Scottish Borders and in the other areas at the website:

The Our Story So Far film shows some of what we are doing and the difference it makes for mums, their families and for their communities. 

Who's involved?

There were two part-time sessional workers, who together worked around 16 hours a week. They got new groups going, helped them become established, and provided a contact for anyone wanting information. They also linked in with other services for families across Scottish Borders.

By August 2013 there were 48 mums, nine dads, two grans and one granddad involved and a lot of babies and toddlers.   The baby massage groups then brought in another 40 mums and their babies.

Since then more parents have got involved in the local groups, along with more babies and children.

Parents are running the local groups themselves now, with advice and support from us when they need it.

How was the project funded?

Big Lottery Fund Investing in Ideas grant got the project started. Then funding came from Scottish Borders LEADERComic Relief’s small grants scheme and NHS BordersOutside the Box contributed some money and additional staff time. The LEADER funding felt very important to us as it reinforced the message that this is about strong, sustainable rural communities.

Since August 2013 the project has continued with funding from NHS Borders and help in kind from Outside the Box.  The baby massage pilot was funded by BIG Communities and Families.

The mums are doing their own fundraising to keep their own local groups going and NHS Borders has given a small grant to support a follow-on group at Walkerburn. Fundraising has included donations from local businesses, raffles, a fancy dress buggy walk and a sponsored toddle waddle - even the babies and toddlers are helping!

Where did you go for help and advice?

Outside the Box supports new groups to get started so we drew on the experience of many community groups. Mums in Scottish Borders and in other places fed into the planning for the project.

Our partner was the Borders Healthy Living Network based at NHS Borders. They were a good source of advice at the setting up stage and have continued to give help and advice to the mums’ groups.

As part of the project we developed a set of Hints and Tips to share our experience from this project with other people. 

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

The mums have given great support to each other - women tell us what a difference it has made to them and their children when they make friends. 

The project has also enabled people to be more active in their villages  - examples include people helping plan local events, supporting other groups, helping keep the village halls going and much more. 

Neighbours and local businesses are helping the mums’ groups too, by donating equipment and funds and introducing people to the informal networks which are such an important part of rural life.

Over the past two years people in other areas have told us how they were inspired by the film and resources from this project and are starting their own per support groups for mums.

And the biggest challenge?

In the first stage, we started similar projects in rural South Lanarkshire and at West Wigtownshire in Dumfries and Galloway at about the same time.  Mums in all three areas contributed to activities which are having a bigger impact, such as making the DVD to show why mums in rural areas need this peer support and contributing to the set of Hints and Tips to help groups in other areas get similar services underway. Working with the other groups brought advantages but it took a lot more work than expected and slowed down some elements.

Any tips for those setting up a similar project?

  • Talk to people who are a bit isolated and ask what will help them feel part of their community

  • Try things. If they don’t work at first, keep the door open. People may just need time or confidence to get used to the idea of a new activity being there

  • Be open to each village or area wanting something different and taking a different approach

  • Tell the group in each village what the others are doing. It encourages people to come up with more ideas and to keep going if they come across any difficulties. People tell us how it feels easier and better when you are part of something bigger

  • Work in partnership with people in lots of situations. We got help from local businesses as well as from the Health Visitors, community groups, walking groups, the Library Service and many more people

  • Be willing to adapt what you do, as new people come uo with more requests and suggestions

What's next for your project?

Since August 2013, more new groups have got started while others have ended or merged, as mums went back to work or children moved on to nursery school.

Since then we have run 9 baby massage groups, as another way for mums to meet each other. 

We are looking to follow up ideas which parents have suggested, including groups for dads and groups which meet at weekends to support mums who are working during the week.