A DOULA group is looking to open a café to support families with young children who are struggling.

Michelle Bromley-Hesketh is the founder of Snowdrop Doula, which supports women in Blackburn, Darwen and across East Lancashire.

A doula is a person who supports women through labour, birth, and afterwards.

The mum-of-three wants to give less well-off families the chance to meet and gain support if they need it, including child-friendly groups and cooking classes as well work as offering food from a small food bank.

Michelle said: “I have personal experience of postnatal mental illness, so I understand what the community may struggle with.

“We have various existing funding from The National Lottery Community Fund to provide both counselling and Doula support, employing 10 staff and eight volunteers. Our model of support has been shown to improve physical and mental health in families, our model is unique in the UK.”

The cafe idea was researched before the coronavirus pandemic. The group are considering locations in Blackburn or Accrington and the launch venue and date will be confirmed after lockdown is lifted.

Michelle said: “Having listened to families and other services, we became aware of a place for families to gather to meet and gain support. Families want cooking groups and somewhere child friendly to come and relax.”

Snowdrop Doula opened a shop in Accrington Arndale in October 2019, where many parents visit to meet, feed their babies and have a bite to eat.

Michelle said: “Our new Doula Cafe will be a space with specialist drop in support for families. We will also use staff and volunteers to run the cafe who may have low skill or find it difficult to get into work for any number of reasons, we will train and support these workers.

“This idea is a direct result of conversations families have with us and with the current pandemic, this cafe will open after lockdown, providing an essential service for when people return to some normality. Our specialised staff can help and support in those uncertain moments.”

To donate to the project, please visit the funding page ­— crowdfunder.co.uk/doula-cafe