Jul 2, 2024 | Swansea

The charity providing connection, activities and support for mums and toddlers in South Wales

The charity providing connection, activities and support for mums and toddlers in South Wales.

After Maureen Ekenna’s son was born, she found herself feeling isolated. She decided to create something positive from the situation, not only for her, but for other mums too. Read on for more about her life-changing charity.

Maureen Ekenna first came to Swansea in 2011 to study Chemical Engineering at Swansea University. She returned to settle in the city in 2021 after marrying a Swansea man. Soon they had a baby – but, with most of her family and friends living in Nigeria, Maureen seriously lacked support.

Maureen knew other mums must feel the same, so the idea for a charity to support and connect mums with young children started to take shape.

“I wanted to have a community where mums can come together for activities centred around them and their children, and also a safe space for the mums to be able to express their challenges without feeling without feeling shy or feeling judged by other mums,” she says.

She set up The Mums and Toddlers Foundation in 2023 based on this vision. Just over a year later, the charity has over 280 members and holds regular meet-ups and events in Swansea and the surrounding area.

In its infancy, the foundation received little outside support, so it fell to Maureen and her husband to provide refreshments and collect donated items for mums in need.

As it grew, the charity gained outside support, including Lottery funding which enables it to pay for trips and activities, and some essentials for the mothers. Swansea charity Faith in Families provides further essential items for mums in need; SCVS funds a room at the LC, Swansea’s leisure centre, for the group’s meetings; and Swansea Council provides support with snacks for the mums and toddlers.

The foundation holds weekly Wednesday meetings at the LC centred around activities for mums and children, but it also runs other activities and events including picnics, karaoke, trips to attractions such as Plantasia, and swimming and fitness sessions at the LC, which provides “Buggy Blast” fitness sessions to Mums and Toddlers Foundation members free of charge. Buggy Blast is a fitness class specifically designed for mums with young children, allowing them to participate even without childcare.

“One of our aims as an organisation is to promote mums’ mental health, and we know that women keep fit, it helps us mentally,” says Maureen.

Other health-related activities include sessions delivered by the health board on topics such as food and nutrition, women’s health, cervical screening and breast screening. Mums are informed of upcoming activities via the foundation’s social media pages and WhatsApp group. One fun recent event was a rail trip funded by South Wales Connected as part of its Joy of the Journey scheme.

“That was amazing – we went to Burry Port and had a lovely time,” says Maureen.

With membership numbers high and growing, Maureen is delighted to have turned a lonely situation into a thriving support network.

“I’m really excited about how this community has grown,” she says. “Initially I felt like I was the only one struggling; everyone seemed to find motherhood so easy. Motherhood is amazing, but sometimes it has its own challenges. Now I have created a community of mums who relate to this struggle, and are also open to supporting other mothers who are going through the same thing.

“This is what’s so fulfilling for me; the fact that our community is growing, and more mums are getting the support that they need as they journey through motherhood.”

She adds that the foundation is there for anyone who relates to her story:

“It’s for any mum who is struggling, who is feeling isolated, who may be struggling for baby essentials, or is just looking for a mum community where everyone supports each other. They are all welcome. You can share your challenges without feeling silly or ashamed, because we all support one another.”

To connect, search “Mums and Toddlers Foundation” on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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