TV's Anne Praises Headington Baby Café

Television and former Radio Oxford presenter Anne Diamond has lent her support to Headington Baby Café in Oxford - and said she would have used one when breastfeeding her children. At the second anniversary of the Barton-based Baby Café on Wednesday, she congratulated mothers, volunteers and health workers for making the once-a-week drop-in centre such a success. And before she cut a special cake to mark the occasion, it was revealed that £16,000 had been secured from Oxfordshire County Council to ensure the future of the city's baby café bus.

Ms Diamond, who has four sons, and lost a fifth child to cot death in 1991, said: "I had a lot of trouble breastfeeding because of stress and being in the public eye, and I had to have a lot of help. "I couldn't have done it on my own and would have come to something like this if it had existed. I believe very strongly that it's about getting young mums out and about, helping them make friends and get expert help. Breastfeeding is so important. It can help prevent obesity and is one of the biggest things in the fight against cot death as well."

The Headington Baby Café, based in Wayneflete Road, Barton, opens once a week. About 12 to 15 mothers visit each Wednesday for help and advice from midwives, health visitors and trained volunteers. The centre is open to all women with babies.

Organiser Julie Osborne said: "They come when they need our help and they return because they feel comfortable at the Baby Café and know it's a friendly environment where they can meet people they can talk to."

As well as celebrating two years of success, everyone at the party welcomed the news that the Baby Café Bus would be able to continue running after its first year. The minibus was transformed into a travelling café last year with £55,000 from the National Lottery People's Millions Fund.

Ms Osborne said: "The money is about two thirds of what we need for a year and goes towards things like fuel, a paid member of staff, volunteer training, maintenance and insurance. We're hoping Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust will make up the difference."

PCT health improvement practitioner Priscilla Young said a decision to fund the bus had not yet been made, but added that encouraging breastfeeding across the county was a top priority. She said: "We're particularly looking at raising skill levels among professionals and will be working with Unicef to train our midwives in breastfeeding support. We're also working with the Breastfeeding Network to offer volunteers peer support training."

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