Category Archive: News

WILL YOU ‘TAKE ON 10 FOR PREM’ THIS WORLD PREMATURITY DAY?

World Prematurity Day is taking place on November 17th, 2024 and this year we are inviting schools, clubs, and community groups to participate in a special challenge…

World Prematurity Day brings global attention to the significant impact of premature birth, which affects 1 in 10 babies worldwide. In celebration and support of those born prematurely and their families, Tiny Lives is launching an exciting new initiative – ‘Take on 10 for Prem!’

‘Take on 10 for Prem’ is an easy, ten-minute online workout designed to get children and their friends active while raising awareness and educating young minds on the challenges and stories of premature birth while raising vital funds for Tiny Lives.

As well as being loads of fun, ‘Take on 10 for Prem’ is also an important way to teach children about important health issues while encouraging physical activity and team work – all key parts of children’s learning and development. Registration now is open for schools and groups here and we’ve even created a downloadable toolkit so you can spread the word to family and friends about why you’re taking part in the challenge.

Rachel Hardwick, Fundraising and Engagement Manager said, “Here at Tiny Lives we want all premature and sick newborn babies and their families living in the North East & North Cumbria to have the best possible chance to thrive, and if your school or group ‘Take on 10 for Prem’ you can help us do this. We would be thrilled to have you and your friends and family on board, making a difference and celebrating the strength and resilience of those born prematurely. As well as raising vital funds for the neonatal community from the North East and North Cumbria.

“Individuals and groups are invited to join in the online workout at a time that suits them in the lead up to World Prematurity Day and every group that takes part will receive a certificate to celebrate their achievement, and every individual will get a sticker to take home to show they took part in the event.

We would be thrilled to have you on board, making a difference and celebrating the strength and resilience of those born prematurely. As well as raising vital funds for the neonatal community from the North East and North Cumbria.”

To find out more about ‘Take on 10 for Prem’ and receive your downloadable fundraising tool kit please get in touch with Louise at louise@tinylives.org.uk or call 0191 230 2112. Or you can sign up here

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU ARRIVE ON WARD 35

Arriving on Ward 35 is a daunting and often a completely new experience and it can be difficult to take everything in and know the right questions to ask. Lots of parents enter the unit in the middle of the night which can be disorientating and we know it can also be a difficult time for family and friends who would like to visit new parents and babies on the ward. Visitors often don’t want to add to an already stressful experience by asking logistical questions about where to go and what to do when they arrive, so we’re here to help.

We’re here to make everyone’s experience on the neonatal unit as simple as it can be, so parents, family, and friends can concentrate on being there for their new arrival. With that in mind, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions. If there is anything that you would have found helpful that you think others might find handy we would love to hear your thoughts too!

How do I get into the unit?

All visitors are asked to check it at the maternity reception and the team there can direct you to the ward. The unit operates a secure entry system, family and friends will need to buzz to gain entry but once on the unit parents can sign up for fingerprint entry to come and go as they please.

What members of the Tiny Lives team might I meet?

Members of the Tiny Lives team are a regular sight on the unit (just look out for our branded t-shirts and hoodies) and we are here for you to ask any questions about how Tiny Lives can support you. We also visit for our popular coffee and cake every Wednesday, in the Ward 35 Family Room and on Transitional Care. It’s an informal chance to meet the Tiny Lives team for a chat, cuppa, and slice of something delicious. We also contribute funding to various posts, including members of the physiotherapy team, the family social care team, and the psychology team who are all here to support you and your family.

What happens when I am first admitted?

When you first arrive on the unit you will be given a parent pack which includes lots of things that may come in handy while you are here, including reusable cups and a memory book. We know that there is a lot of new information to absorb and that you will have lots of questions so your pack also includes a notebook and pen so you can keep track of what you are being told.

What if I have older children too?

Older brothers and sisters can find Ward 35 confusing, so we have our sibling packs on hand to help them make sense of everything going on around them and keep boredom at bay while mam and dad are speaking to medical staff or taking care of the new arrival. If you need one you will receive a sibling pack when you first arrive at the unit and inside you’ll find a reading book, a colouring book, and some activities which will help you explain what is happening to their new brother and sister. You’ll also find a TV, toys, and books in the family room that siblings are welcome to use and DVDs are also available to borrow to keep brothers and sisters occupied.

Siblings are allowed in the bays and family room, but we are asked that they are always supervised by an adult, which may mean parents want to consider bringing someone with them while they are speaking to doctors or taking care of your newest arrival.

Is there support with parking?

Yes! We want to take away as much of the mental load as possible, so when you are admitted to the unit you will be given a parking pass for the duration of your time here. Don’t worry if you don’t drive – you can nominate a designated driver, like a grandparent, for the pass. If you don’t drive a car, don’t worry, just let us know and we can support you with bus or train tickets.

You can find more information about how to travel to the unit here

Is there somewhere for me to get some food and a drink?

Our family room is there for you to sit and have something to eat or drink with siblings or extended family and friends. Our refreshments room is designed for parents only. In here you can help yourself to hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, biscuits and cereal. If you’ve brought food from home that you would like to heat up, this is where you will find a microwave too. Tiny Lives are on every Wednesday with coffee and cake and we welcome everyone to come along.  Our peer supporters come onto the unit at various times during the week, they  have been sat exactly where you are and are happy to be there to answer any questions that you might have. There is a timetable on the notice board in the family room with the times they are coming.

You can find out more details about the unit, including what facilities are available, visiting hours for extended family members, and how to gain access to the ward by visiting:

https://www.newcastle-hospitals.nhs.uk/hospitals/royal-victoria-infirmary/wards/ward-35-neonatal-intensive-care-unit/  

You can watch a video tour of the unit with matron Angela Warne here which will give you a good idea of things you will find on Ward 35.

PROMOTING POSITIVE DISCHARGE FOR FAMILIES ON WARD 35

While it is a moment that parents look forward to, being discharged from the unit can come with a lot of anxiety and uncertainty for neonatal families.

Since 2022 we’ve been working with parents, clinicians, and AHPs on Ward 35 to understand and develop a series of initiatives that will make the discharge process a positive one, empower parents to use their voice and thrive while spending time on the unit while having more agency in their babies care. Claire Marcroft, clinical academic neonatal physiotherapist at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Trust kickstarted the project to improve support for parents as they got ready to leave the unit, and in 2023 Tiny Lives commissioned Matthew Lievesley from Northumbria University School of Design to lead the research and design of tools that put the voices and experience of families at the heart of the discharge experience.

After extensive research, including staff workshops, desk research, and parent interviews, a set of helpful tools was created to promote the importance of family, ‘nudge’ staff to consider the parent’s place in the discharge journey, and share handy resources and advice that parents could access on the ward and at home. These included:

•         Posters – eight different colourful posters are now displayed on the walls at the entrance and around the neonatal unit. The posters share empowering phrases that promote the importance of parental involvement and family to counteract what can be a disempowering environment; setting the tone that their babies belong to them and boosting confidence in their roles as partners in their babies’ care.

•         Communication Cards – laminated cards were created for families to use on the ward or at home, outlining what their daily priorities were (for example giving a bath, do skin to skin care, communicating what is important to them) and reinforcing that parents are an important part of the picture too. The cards are given to families when they arrive on the ward and have space for parents to plan out questions for medical teams or write down thoughts and feelings. This gives very tangible ‘permission’ for parents to interact with medical staff and ask questions, raises confidence to approach staff with thoughts, and encourages the development of shared-care tasks and skills. A QR code on each card links back to the Tiny Lives website so parents can see and understand the support that we offer here.

•         Going Home Tips Pocket Book – This is a simple concertina-style information booklet that is given out at discharge, covering key themes that parents shared with us that they would find helpful to take home, including tips and resources to help with sleep, feeding, development, and parent self-care. Alongside the printed cards, a downloadable version of the booklet is also available to make it even easier for parents to access the information that they need. If you would like to download the information for yourself, you can access it here.

All of the resources were intentionally designed to follow a common look and feel that parents and staff could associate with a positive discharge process and that stood out on the busy walls of the ward. Each line illustration draws on themes of comfort, closeness, and contact between parent and baby at the heart and the style of drawing leaves ethnicity, gender, and family structures ambiguous so everyone knows that they are welcomed and their voices are important.

Speaking about the impact project Claire Marcroft said. “Everything was designed to help parents to be partners in the care of their babies, improve support for parents on their transition to home, and help embed a culture change in the environment on the neonatal unit in keeping with core FiCare principles. Since launching the initiative, there has been a much more collaborative and respectful approach, with all staff seeming more open and willing to participate in discussions and critical reflection of their own, and collaborative, practice to improve care. In addition, there are clear signs of culture change, with staff working in partnership with families and being open to supporting individual family’s needs and well-being.

“All resources are now available for families and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and it is clear that the tools are making a real difference to parents.

“The posters, especially, set a tone of empowerment and belonging for families, and several parents felt an emotional response to them and felt they were an important part of their NICU memories. The communication cards provided a ‘license’ and a reminder for families to open conversations and ask questions that they might not have otherwise considered. The Going Home Tips booklet was viewed as a helpful ‘one-stop’ resource that parents felt provided reassurance and a safety net once they’d left the unit.

“Perhaps most importantly, all of the resources gave the parents a message that they were being listened to and signposted them to broader concepts of FiCare that they might not otherwise have been aware of.”

These thoughtful initiatives and tools have now been positively adopted throughout the ward and there is a growing sense of ownership in the staff team led by Dr Jenna Gillone, Claire Marcroft, Clare Maclennan, and the Newcastle Neonatal Service FiCare Group. The project has been so positively received that Jacqui from Tiny Lives along with Matthew Lievesley (Healthcare Designer at Northumbria University), Claire Marcroft (Clinical Specialist Neonatal Physiotherapist), and Rachel Collum (parent representative) were invited to attend the Design for Health Conference 2024 in Sheffield.

This is a fantastic achievement for the team and we want to say a huge thank you to every supporter of Tiny Lives, without you projects like this simply wouldn’t be possible.

SCREEN ON THE GREEN x TINY LIVES IS BACK THIS SUMMER

To Newcastle – and beyond!

After the success of our event in 2023, the amazing team at NE1 has agreed to once again support us with a Tiny Lives Take Over of Screen on the Green at 10am on Friday 26 July. All Tiny Lives supporters (and their toys!) are invited to pack some tasty snacks, pull up a deck chair and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere alongside some lovely company.

Alongside our screening of Toy Story, the NE1 team will be showing two to three films a day from late July through to early September and it is the perfect summer activity to enjoy with the whole family. They will be showing a mix of over 80 movies, from big blockbusters to family friendly classics like Toy Story, alongside cult favourites and rom-coms so there really is something to fit every one’s tastes. This year the team at NE1 has also added Toddler Takeover to the programme, a brand-new edition of screenings perfect for families with younger children who might have more trouble sitting still.

Our Tiny Lives team will be there on the day to say hello, and we’ll have plenty of things to get involved with too, including a tombola with some fun prizes to be won!

DATE: Friday 26th July

TIME: 10am

No booking is required for the Tiny Lives showing of Toy Story or any of the other Screen on the Green movies and the showing is free for well-behaved toys, children and grown-ups.

Find out more about the Screen on the Green and stay up to date on what films will be showing over the summer at https://www.getintonewcastle.co.uk/ne1-events/screen-on-the-green

MTrec supports Tiny Lives for 11th Consecutive Year

MTrec Recruitment, the market-leading, Newcastle-based recruitment company is sponsoring the Tiny Lives Great North Run running vests for the 11th year in a row, with the company now supporting our work for over 20 years.

MTrec has supported a diverse range of charities throughout the region since the business was formed in 2006. The generous sponsorship means that everyone who signs up to run for Tiny Lives this September will get a high-quality running shirt as part of their sign-up..

Louise Carroll, Community and Events Fundraiser, here at Tiny Lives, said: “We are incredibly grateful to the team at MTrec for the fantastic support they have given us for over two decades. For 11 years MTrec has provided Tiny Lives with a variety of running vests and t-shirts for our many fundraising events, including the Great North Run, which will take place on Sunday 8 September 2024.

“Every year we support over 750 babies and their families and the commitment of North East businesses like MTrec allows us to dedicate even more resources towards supporting the best possible outcomes for everyone spending time on the neonatal unit, as well as giving our volunteers taking part in our fundraising events the best support we can.”

James Doyle from MTrec said “MTrec Recruitment has proudly supported Tiny Lives Charity over many years, with its incredible fundraising events including the Great North Run. The charity provides an amazing support service to so many families, and their most precious of gifts to the world. Our main contact with the charity is Louise Carroll, who is an absolute pleasure to work with due to the impressive levels of dedication and commitment she provides to the Charity. We wish everyone connected to Tiny Lives the very best of luck for 2024”.

If you are interested in supporting us by running the Great North Run 2025 we would love to hear from you! For information contact Louise on 0191 230 2112 louise@tinylives.org.uk

HOW TO SUPPORT DADS SPENDING TIME ON THE NEONATAL UNIT

Becoming a dad is filled with happiness, but spending time on the unit can also be a daunting time and with all the feelings that come up around Father’s Day it can feel incredibly isolating.

Every dad has a different experience when baby is spending time on the neonatal unit, particularly if mam is being looked after in the hospital too. It is normal for dads to feel a mixture of emotions from fear and confusion about what is going to happen to anger at the situation and being overwhelmed by life still continuing as normal outside of the ward. At Tiny Lives we are here to support the whole family in whatever way we can.

Dads Team

Everyone’s experience is unique and it’s important to talk about what you are going through and how it makes you feel. Our Tiny Lives Dad’s Team is here to bring together men who have experienced what it is like on the unit, and anyone is welcome to join. The group is there to chat and offer support to dads who are currently in the Neonatal Unit with their children and those who are now home. Our Dad’s Team is made up of other Dads and father figures who have all had their own neonatal experience on Ward 35, and who volunteer their time to support other men who are currently on their own journey. Our dads peer support volunteers go onto the unit each week and are there to offer a listening ear. We also have a quarterly Dads Get Together, held in town not far from the RVI for dads on the unit and post discharge. It’s a friendly, relaxed group, where you can have a game of pool and a bite to eat if you want. Its open to any dad whose had a baby on the neonatal unit and new members are always made to feel welcome.

Our Dads Team has a ‘Dad’s Chat Whatsapp Group’ that you can join too so you can chat with other dads who have had similar experiences and ask questions even if it’s just about where to get a bacon roll when your baby is in hospital! Funded counselling and clinical psychologist sessions are also available so you don’t have to feel like you are going through this experience on your own.

Parent Packs

When you are on the ward there can be a lot of information for new dads to take in about baby’s health, but also about any care mam might need. Our parent packs are given out to all new parents and include two reusable cups, a notebook and pen so they can take notes during ward rounds or jot down questions that they would like to ask. We find that a lot of dads find this useful as it is something practical to do and gives valuable input to the neonatal experience.

Kangaroo Care

Kangaroo care, or skin-to-skin, is a great way for dads to bond with their baby while on the unit and the staff team on the unit are on hand to offer advice and support for any new parents who might feel nervous or would like some top tips. Not only is skin-to-skin great for babies, but it can also reduce stress levels in parents and create a real connection.

Spending time on Ward 35 is a stressful and overwhelming experience and it can be difficult for dads to establish their identity as a father and learn what being a dad to a new baby on the unit means. It can be difficult to know what to say, but if you know a dad who is currently on the unit, or has spent time there in the past, there are lots of ways that you can offer support.

Be there to listen – being a dad is tough at the best of times, but spending time in the neonatal unit comes with its own raft of worries and anxieties. Be there to listen without judgment if they would like to talk, or offer to chat about something completely different to take their mind off things.

Offer practical help – life in the outside world doesn’t stop when families are admitted to Ward 35 and there are often lots of admin things to juggle. Dad will maybe still be at work if he is saving paternity leave for when the baby is discharged, and there are often still other children, parents, and homes to be taken care of. Ask what could help, offer to help with life admin or logistics where you can, your thoughtfulness will make a big difference.

Celebrate milestones – milestones may be slightly different in the neonatal unit but they are exciting moments for neonatal parents. Ask Dad questions about babies progress and celebrate each step of the journey.

Our online shop is stocked with Father’s Day cards and gifts and all purchases go towards supporting babies and parents navigating life on the unit.

CELEBRATE DADS THIS FATHER’S DAY


Spending time on the unit as a new Dad is a daunting time, especially with all the feelings that come up around Father’s Day it can feel isolating and it is a good idea to reach out to others who have experienced a similar situation. Our Dad’s Team is here to bring together men who have experienced what it is like on the unit, and anyone is welcome to join. The group is there to chat and offer support to dads who are currently in the Neonatal Unit with their children.


We love celebrating and supporting Dads every day of the year, but Father’s Day is the perfect opportunity to tell them how great they are, and say thank you for everything that they do for their families. In our new Father’s Day gift bundles, you can choose from a heartfelt card, a Tiny Lives pin, and a branded hoodie – the perfect way to show off that they are a proud neonatal Dad. Father’s Day 2024 is coming up on Sunday 16 June and our gifts are the perfect way to say ‘you’re the best’ to the dads and father figures in your life.


The Birth Trauma Association has compiled and shared helpful information to support Dads who have been affected after watching their partner give birth. According to their literature, there are two key ways that fathers can be affected:


• If a wife or partner has developed PTSD as a result of a traumatic birth, dads can find it difficult to know how to give support. PTSD is a debilitating condition and people who have it may be constantly on edge, anxious, tired, and irritable.
• Dads or male partners may develop PTSD, or other psychological symptoms as the result of having watched the traumatic or early birth of their child. This can lead to flashbacks and heightened anxiety.

If you, or a dad you know, is experiencing post-traumatic stress symptoms or would benefit from mental health support, you are not alone.


Our Dad’s Team is made up of other Dads and father figures who have all had their own neonatal experience on Ward 35, and who volunteer their time to support other men who are currently on their own journey. It’s really friendly, relaxed group and new members are always made to feel welcome. Our Dads Team even has a ‘Dad’s Chat Whatsapp Group’ that you can join too so you can chat with other dads who have had similar experiences and ask questions. Funded counselling and clinical psychologist sessions are also available so you don’t have to feel like you are going through this experience on your own.

Additional support is also available from:

Birth Trauma Association Peer Group
support@birthtraumaassociation.org.uk
0203 621 6338
https://www.birthtraumaassociation.org

Samaritans
116 123
jo@samaritans.org
https://www.samaritans.org

SANDS (specialist support for parents who have experienced baby loss)
0808 164 3332
https://www.sands.org.uk

CELEBRATING OUR TEAM THIS INTERNATIONAL NURSES DAY

“From caring comes courage”

International Nurses Day is marked every 12th May (the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth) and is a celebration of the dedicated men and women who dedicate their lives to taking care of others. This year we want to take the opportunity to shine a light on the heroes of the Neonatal Unit, the incredible nurses who go above and beyond to support neonatal babies and their families. We know that the nurses you meet during your stay on the unit play an enormous part in your story, so join us in saying thank you for everything that they do, today and every day. 

The theme of International Nurses Day 2024 is ‘Our Nurses, Our Future and the Economic Power of Care’ and this year, organisations around the world are joining together to reshape misconceptions and demonstrate how investment in nurses and the profession can bring benefits to the economy, as well as society as a whole. 

Arriving on the Neonatal Unit can be an overwhelming and confusing experience, but knowing that there is a team of nurses dedicated to taking care of your new arrival, and you, can be a lifeline to parents trying to navigate the journey. To celebrate the incredible work that the nurses on Ward 35 deliver, we thought we would share what our parents have shared about the nurses they met during their time on the unit. 

“The nurses were so kind and helpful, reassuring me, it amazed me that they took such an interest in our little family & that we could trust them to look after and care for our absolute world when we weren’t around. One thing’s for sure, the support we felt, the love and the tears shed from some of the nurses on the day of discharge, made us feel so cared for and that we’d be truly missed.” 

– Theo’s Mam, Nicola 

“My wife could not travel after having an emergency C-section so I travelled 54 miles to the RVI leaving my wife in hospital with family in our hometown. It was a lot to take in… The nurses were brilliant with me; a deer in the headlights! They talked me through everything without overwhelming me with too much. Seeing my son lying there with all the machines, wires, and tubes helping him push through was a harsh beginning as a first-time father and threw me back a bit. As a father, I felt the need to protect my son but I was totally helpless! We had to put our trust in the nurses and the volunteers, who throughout our time on ward 35, would reassure me and my wife. I honestly think without them there I would have struggled massively with trying to process what was happening and I’m forever grateful.”

– Tommy’s Dad, Adam. 

“Meeting the surgeon all I can remember was looking at his hands and thinking how can hands that big perform surgery on my tiny little baby? I can remember his lips moving but I wasn’t taking in anything he said. I was reassured by the nurses during the whole four hours Harper was in surgery. The nurses walked me around the ward and talked through everything I needed to know. I can’t thank Ward 35 enough and all the staff that work there because if it wasn’t for every single one of them, Harper wouldn’t have survived. Everyone that works on Ward 35 is an Angel in disguise.” 

– Harper’s Mam Chelsey 

“The only thing that made this time remotely manageable was the support of the doctors and nurses who took care of Freddie in his last few days. Lindsay was Freddie’s nurse and she supported us and our family through the final moments, finding the right words to say in a time when nothing felt right. She was there with us when Freddie died and spent the rest of the day bathing, dressing, and taking care of him and us. That compassion and genuine kindness is something we will never forget.”

– Freddie’s Mam, Fran 

“On the Neonatal unit, the nurses were so kind in such a daunting situation, I could touch Oliver’s hand through the window of the incubator and then they got him out for me to hold all the while offering reassurance that he was comfortable.” 

– Oliver’s Mam, Louise 

“I was scared and overwhelmed but the nurses were so supportive and gave me his bay number so I could call anytime even though I was only in the next ward. Throughout George’s stay in Ward 35, the staff was unbelievable. They supported and encouraged our wishes to do skin-to-skin and even reassured my husband when he was nervous. I went through so many emotions during George’s stay and I never felt like I was bothering the nurses or doctors by calling for updates, asking questions, turning up at silly hours during the day, or asking what I needed to do for his care. Nothing was ever too much for them and they made our time there a lot easier.’

George’s mam 

At Tiny Lives, we’re not only there for the families who spend time on the unit, but we also offer support to the neonatal unit staff so they can continue to deliver their incredible work. Nurses and other staff on the unit can apply for funding for a variety of things, including specialist training courses, travel and accommodation to get to those courses, specific materials that might help their specialism or department (like craft materials or books), or aid with support groups. 

Join us in saying a huge thank you this International Nurses Day to all of the nurses working on Ward 35 and those dedicating their skills to supporting neonatal babies and their families around the world.  

MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH WEEK: HOW TO MAKE TIME FOR YOUR HEALTH AND WELLBEING

Maternal Mental Health Week (29th April – 5th May) is a week-long campaign dedicated to talking about the issues that new mams face before, during, and after pregnancy; helping people to access the information, care, and support that they need to recover. 

At Tiny Lives we are not just here for the babies that spend time in the neonatal unit, we are also here to support every member of the family as they navigate through their journey. Every family is different, and each neonatal journey is unique, but whatever your circumstance, being on the unit with your child can have a huge impact on your mental health. 

Remember that there is no right way to be feeling, and feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear are completely normal – that’s why we are here with support and guidance during and after your time on Ward 35. 

Key themes for this year’s Maternal Mental Health Week include the demystification of perinatal mental illness, finding your identity, and how we can all be stronger together. Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your baby, so we wanted to share some self-care tips from Nicky Robertson so you can take time to focus on your mental health and well-being during and after your time with us: 

1. Take time away from the bedside 

Make sure to get out of the hospital for regular short breaks. Getting some fresh air and sunshine can lift your spirits and ease stress. 

2. Ask for and accept help 

Recognise that you have a lot on your plate and don’t be afraid to ask for help and accept it when it is offered. Family and friends will be looking for ways to support you, and you don’t have to deal with everything on your own. 

3. Talk to someone 

Talking can help you to manage some of the emotions that you are feeling. Open up to a partner, friend, family member, one of the hospital staff, or other parents navigating their own experience. There are also professional resources available to you, you can find all of the details at the end of this article. 

4. Eat well & stay hydrated 

Finding time to grab a bite to eat or to remember to drink water can be difficult when your energy is being directed toward your baby, but it is important to stay healthy and keep your energy levels up so you can be there for your little one. 

5. Get enough sleep 

Sleep might be the last thing on your mind, but your body and mind will be exhausted. Try where you can to take naps during the day and create a new routine so you can get as much sleep as possible a night time. We know it is difficult but it will help you digest all of the new information being given to you and give your mind time to recover from highly stressful environments.  

6. Take a moment to breathe

Find a quiet space, either on the ward or on your own at home, close your eyes, and take some slow deep breaths until you find yourself becoming more peaceful. Take time to recognise and acknowledge how you are feeling in your mind and body before you move on to the next challenge. Even if you have never tried meditation before, a short 5-minute session can be beneficial if you practice regularly. 

7. Do something for you 

There are lots of emotions that can take a toll on your mental health. Taking time to do something familiar that you enjoy will help you switch off or reflect on how you are feeling. Try writing in a journal, reading a book to yourself or out loud to your baby, enjoying your favourite treat, or doing something creative. You can activate your self-soothing system when you need to by stroking your arm, massaging your scalp, or applying moisturiser. 

If you feel like you would benefit from speaking to a professional, there are Clinical Psychologists you can talk to on the Unit. Ask a member of staff or call 0191 282 4081.

Often it isn’t until you get home that you start to reflect on your neonatal hospital stay., Tiny Lives funds a Clinical Psychologist who is there for any parent who may need some support after discharge. Please get in touch with us directly and we can help with this, or feel free to ring the number above. Please do not hesitate to reach out, taking care of yourself is just as important as caring for your baby!

Any parents who have left the hospital can access funded counselling sessions via self-referral to Tiny Lives. Counselling is available to any former Ward 35 parents, no matter how long you have been off the unit and you can attend as individuals or as a couple. For more information and to self-refer, please click here.

RUN, WALK, OR SKIP 5KM THIS MAY TO SUPPORT NEONATAL PARENTS AND BABIES

On your marks, get set…GO! Could you take on a 5K this May for the neonatal families that Tiny Lives supports throughout the year?

Our annual 5k May event is back for 2024, raising vital funds to support families who have spent time on Ward 35. We’re asking supporters to strap on their running shoes and run, walk, or skip 5k over the month, it doesn’t matter how you get there, just that you have fun while you’re doing it! After you’ve completed your challenge, all you have to do is donate £5 to Tiny Lives and nominate five people to take on the challenge too (bonus points if you share your run on social media and tag us, make sure to use the hashtag #5KMay!).

Rachel Hardwick, Fundraising & Engagement Manager here at Tiny Lives, said: “We would love individuals and businesses across the North East to get involved and spread the message about the work that we’re doing to support babies and families, it’s the perfect team building challenge now the weather is getting nicer. Why not head out on your lunch break, meet up for a post-work jog, or get remote colleagues together for some net-walking, all in the name of a good cause.”

How to get involved in 5K May 2024?

It’s easy to get involved, you have between the 1st – 31st of May to:

– Run, walk, or skip your 5K

– Donate £5 to Tiny Lives

-Nominate 5 friends or co-workers to take on the 5K challenge (privately or via social media)

– Post your #5KMay selfie on social media and spread the word of your amazing fundraising!

Do I have to run all 5km at once?

Absolutely not. Split up your 5km in whichever way is best for you, but if you want to do it all in one go, that’s totally fine too!

How do I donate?

You can donate your £5 by clicking here

If you would like to collect donations from friends and family for your challenge, the easiest way is to set up a Just Giving page and share your challenge story on social media. Make sure to tag us in any posts about your challenge so we can cheer you along!

By supporting Tiny Lives during 5k May, you will help us to continue to ensure that neonatal families receive the best care and attention during their time in Ward 35.

Any support means the world to us. Did you know…

–         £5 could fund a Keepsake or Memory Box

–         £10 could fund a Parent Pack

–         £15 could fund a set of Miniboo Bonding Aids

–         £30 could fund a Claire’s Nest

Good luck! We’ll be cheering you on across the month.