All posts by Kelly Ashcroft

Stephen's Virtual Marathon

Stephen Vinter is taking part in a virtual marathon on Sunday 30th May 2021 to raise awareness and money to support APP’s work. Stephen is the husband of APP Volunteer Gemma, who organised pamper packs to be delivered at Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) last Christmas. You can read a news article about this on our website here.

Stephen had originally planned to run the Edinburgh Marathon in 2020, but after it was cancelled for the third time due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he decided to run the marathon virtually instead.

Stephen said ’In 2017, after the birth of our wonderful son, my wife suffered from an illness called postpartum psychosis (PP), hospitalising her for three months in an MBU. She was absolutely amazing and inspiring in the way she handled her recovery while continuing to be a fantastic mum. She suffered severe anxiety and depression for the following 12 months. She is now doing volunteer work for APP, helping other mums in their recovery as well as visiting MBUs.

It is definitely my turn to do my bit for a charity that is now very close to our hearts. Just under a year ago I could hardly run around the block but I decided I would set myself the challenge of getting fit with the secret objective of taking on a big challenge of completing at least one race a month for 12 months to keep me motivated. I have now completed 8 10 kilometre runs, a 10 mile race, a half marathon and a family Santa run with a further 10k and a half marathon to go before I attempt to run the big event.

Anything donated will really help other families who experience PP get the invaluable services that APP provides.’

Stephen’s fundraiser has already raised more than £1,900. We would like to say a huge thank you to Stephen for supporting APP and to all who have donated so far.

You can visit and donate to Stephen’s fundraising page here.

If you have been inspired by Stephen, we would love to support any fundraising ideas you have. Get in touch here

Miles for Mums and Babies Fundraisers

APP would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who is supporting our #MilesForMumsAndBabies challenge. We’re aiming to raise more than £10,000 to support our work by asking people to walk, run or cycle 10 miles, 20 miles, 500 miles or even 1,000 miles! Each mile reflects the journey mums, babies, partners and families travel to be together, whilst mums receive care in Mother and Baby Units (MBUs). We’ve had a fantastic response to the challenge so far. Our fundraisers include:

Shirley Jones, a health visitor, is planning to walk the six different paths up Snowdon, a total of 48.5 miles. Shirley has decided to fundraise for APP after recently learning more about postpartum psychosis. She’s also keen to support our campaign for an MBU in North Wales. Shirley’s first part of her challenge will be on 15th May and she aims to complete the six routes by the end of August. Find out more about her challenge and support her here.

 

 

Dorota Donigiewicz will be walking 100 miles during May to support MilesForMumsAndBabies. Dorota experienced postpartum psychosis (PP) in 2015 after the birth of her first child and says during her recovery she found APP’s forum and other resources very valuable. You can donate to Dorota’s challenge here.

Rachel Kerr is also planning to walk 100 miles in May for MilesForMumsAndBabies. Rachel was hospitalised for three weeks in 2016 having developed PP after the birth of her daughter. Last year, she gave birth to her son and received support from APP. Rachel is raising money for her challenge via JustGiving. You can visit her page here.

Consultant Psychiatrist, Neha Rawat, and her family are aiming to cover 500 miles in May through a combination of walking, running, jumping and crawling! The Rawat-Sharmas have chosen their target to represent the distance between the NHS Lothian Livingston MBU in Scotland and Jasmine Lodge MBU in Devon. Neha says they want to highlight the fact many families travel hundreds of miles to be together whilst a mum is being treated in hospital for severe mental illness. Their Just Giving fundraising page is here, and they also have a Facebook fundraising page here.

Stephanie Fakharzadeh was hospitalised in an adult psychiatric ward in the USA last year after giving birth to her daughter. Covid-19 restrictions meant she wasn’t allowed to see her baby for five days. Stephanie is planning to walk 100 miles in May – the round-trip distance it would have taken for her to visit her daughter once a day during her hospital stay. She’s hoping to be joined by others on her fundraising walks to share postpartum and perinatal stories and to offer support. You can donate to Stephanie’s challenge here.

 

The team from the MBU at Glasgow’s Leverndale Hospital and colleagues from the Community Perinatal Mental Health Team are challenging themselves to walk 10,000 steps a day throughout May. APP has supported the MBU and the Glasgow team say they are taking part in #MilesForMumsAndBabies to raise awareness of postpartum psychosis and to support APP. Visit their JustGiving page here.

Hannah Bose is planning to walk 92.5 miles in May – that’s the distance from her house to the nearest MBU in Exeter, Devon. Hannah will be joined on her walks by her cockapoo, Tessie. To read more and support Hannah – and Tessie – visit her fundraising page here.

 

 

Dale’s 250 Mile Charity Walk in Memory of Claire Donald

Dale Marr is walking 250 miles during April and May, to honour the memory of her sister Claire Donald. Dale wants to raise awareness of postpartum psychosis (PP) and help APP to support women and families who are affected by the illness.

Dale said ‘Sadly on 17th January ten years ago I tragically lost my sister to the horrible illness postpartum psychosis.

We are very blessed that Claire left behind her two beautiful daughters and we see so much of her in them.

It means so much to me that other women and their families get the help and support they need.

Please help me to raise awareness and support this charity by donating whatever you can. Many thanks.’

Dale on her wedding day with her sister Claire

Dale’s fundraiser has already raised more than £800. We would like to say a huge thank you to Dale for supporting APP, and to all who have donated so far. You can visit and donate to Dale’s fundraising page here.

If you have been inspired by Dale, we would love to support any fundraising ideas you have. Get in touch here.

 

Katherine Kay’s 40 Miles in 40 Days Sea Swim in Memory of Amy Rogers

Katherine Kay is taking part in a sponsored 40 miles in 40 days sea swim in Poole, to honour the memory of her friend Amy Rogers. Katherine wants to raise awareness and money for both APP and Winston’s Wish, a bereavement charity that provides emotional and practical support to children and their families after the death of a parent or sibling.

Katherine will be starting the sponsored sea swim in May and plans to finish the 40 miles on 25th June, which would have been Amy’s 40th birthday.

Katherine said ‘Nearly three years ago, my wonderful, hilarious, big-hearted friend Amy was lost during a postpartum psychotic episode, five days after giving birth to her second son. She is missed so much by everyone who knew her.

Amy loved lots of things: playing the piano, chocolate cheesecake, Ryan Gosling… and swimming in the sea. To honour her memory, I’m planning to sea-swim 40 miles in 40 days, with the final day falling on 25th June, her 40th birthday.


Katherine's friend, Amy

I’m raising money for two charities who helped Amy’s family after we tragically lost her; Action on Postpartum Psychosis and Winston’s Wish. Please donate whatever you can.

Wish me luck… and wish Amy a Happy 40th in your own way. She loved a celebration!’

Katherine’s fundraiser has already raised more than £3000. We would like to say a huge thank you to Katherine for supporting both APP and Winston’s Wish, and to all who have donated so far. You can visit and donate to Katherine’s fundraising page here.

If you have been inspired by Katherine, we would love to support any fundraising ideas you have. Get in touch here

 

 

Wellbeing Boxes

Thank you to Rachel Lucas who is helping to raise money for APP with her wellbeing boxes for motherhood, supporting women in pregnancy and postpartum.

Rachel developed postpartum psychosis in the days following the birth of her daughter Evelyn and spent six weeks in Leeds Mother and Baby Unit (MBU).

She has now developed the Brand New Mum box which she is selling via her website www.pourlamaman.co.uk, donating some of the profits to both APP and PANDAS Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

Rachel says ‘As mums, we face new challenges daily, and these challenges become even harder when all our time and energy is used up on our little ones. It is so important we take the time to recharge, and think about our needs too. I was inspired to do something to help make things a little easier for mums, and so Pour la Maman was born.  With our thoughtfully curated wellbeing boxes to support women in pregnancy, postpartum and beyond, we truly hope we can make a difference. We hope you love our boxes as much as we do.’

Rachel is a big supporter of APP and is also one of our trained Peer Support Volunteers. She held a fundraiser with her family and friends called ‘Four million steps for APP’ during the month of November last year, and is also running the London Landmarks Half Marathon on Sunday 1st August 2021 for APP along with her partner James.

Thank you Rachel for your continued support of APP.

If you have been inspired by Rachel, we would love to support any fundraising ideas you have! Get in touch here. We would love to support any event you choose.

Lauren’s Virtual Kiltwalk challenge for Action on Postpartum Psychosis

A huge thank you to Lauren Forrest who took part in the Virtual Scottish Kiltwalk over the weekend of 23rd to 25th April 2021 to raise awareness and money to support APP’s work.

Lauren is a Psychologist working in mental health, and issues affecting the perinatal period interest her. Lauren started the Couch to 5k after the birth of her second baby in September and says keeping active had been a lifeline for her, especially during lockdown

Together with her husband, they ran 10k on one day, and walked 10 miles the following day. Following the challenge, Lauren said ‘It was a nice weekend weather wise and we have lovely scenic routes around East Lothian.  We did a lot of walking around here during my pregnancy and when baby arrived during lockdown. It’s been nice having time to focus on getting my fitness back and of course a bit of a child reprieve! I also have a running buggy now so I am looking forward to having some runs with my mini passenger.

The work of APP is so important to aid recovery of women, increase awareness and educate, facilitate research into postpartum psychosis and improve current services. It’s been a privilege to just play a very small part in supporting the charity.’ 

Lauren’s challenge has raised more than £250 for APP, and all funds will be topped up by 50% thanks to Sir Tom Hunter and the Hunter Foundation. We would like to thank Lauren for supporting APP and everyone who has donated.

You can still visit and donate to Lauren’s fundraising page here.

If you have been inspired by Lauren, we would love to support any fundraising ideas you have. Get in touch here.

 

The Wasleys 10K run for Action on Postpartum Psychosis

A huge thank you to Chris Wasley and his wife Natalie who ran 10k on Sunday 18th April to support and raise money for both APP and the Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) at Bournemouth.

Natalie had PP in 2019 and had a total of three stays in the MBU at Bournemouth. Despite the illness, Chris and Natalie have many fond memories of their time there and say that the care the staff provided for Natalie and their son was amazing. Chris has found APP’s Partners Peer Support scheme very supportive.

In January 2021, they decided to start running with the goal that together they would complete a 10k run and share their story to increase awareness of PP.

Chris and Natalie both achieved their personal best times in the 10k run, and met a man at the event whose close friend had experienced PP.

Following the run, Chris said ‘Thankyou to everyone for the support and donations, but more importantly thank you for taking the time to read about our PP story.

We could not have dreamt of the amount we have raised for APP and our MBU in Bournemouth, but to us the most incredible thing we have achieved is raising awareness for this illness.

Chris and Natalie’s fundraiser has raised more than £1700 for APP and the Bournemouth MBU. We would like to thank Chris and Natalie for supporting APP and everyone who has donated.

If you have been inspired by Chris and Natalie, we would love to support any fundraising ideas you have! Get in touch here.

 

 

Why we need more maternal mental health awareness for Black and Asian women

This Time to Talk Day (4 Feb 2021), we’re calling for more targeted awareness campaigns to support Black and Asian women in response to inequalities in maternal mental health.

According to a report from MBRRACE, mental health conditions remain the leading cause of pregnancy-associated deaths between six weeks and one year after giving birth (30%), and maternal suicide is the leading cause of death over the first year after pregnancy. However, there is a striking gap between the mortality rates for Black and Asian women, with Black women four times more likely to die in pregnancy than white women, and Asian women twice as likely.

Postpartum psychosis (PP), a severe and debilitating mental health problem that affects 1400 women in the UK each year from all backgrounds, plays a key role in this shocking statistic.

Our CEO, Dr Jess Heron, said: “We are saddened that the national mental health campaign, Time to Change, is having to close its doors this year, so we feel that, as a charity, we must continue to tackle stigma, and encourage conversation about severe postnatal illness. Our research with women from Black and Asian backgrounds who have experienced postpartum psychosis shows more needs to be done to reach communities with information, to tackle stigma and self-stigma. Women describe barriers to accessing services. Health professionals and charities need to reach out to different communities in response to their unique challenges. With Black and Asian women significantly more affected by pregnancy mortality, perinatal mental health charities must have tailored services and campaigns.”

As such, at APP we have decided to use this year’s Time to Talk Day to share the stories of volunteers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities who have experienced PP.

Plus, Shaheda Akhtar, one of our Peer Support Facilitators is offering talks and presentations to community groups and health professionals and is keen to encourage more women from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities to access information about PP. She says: “I want to start the conversation about PP and work with organisations who are already doing lots of great work in their communities – either in terms of mental health more broadly or dedicated women’s groups.

“We have volunteers trained in peer support and they are keen to support women using their own personal experiences from the perspective of a Black or Asian woman. Cultural identity and faith identity are important, and many of the women I have spoken to have expressed how both played a significant part in their PP experiences.”

Shaheda is also looking to contact more health professionals who work in maternity services or perinatal mental health from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities to get involved in awareness raising campaigns. Shaheda added: “A psychiatrist or nurse who understands a community’s culture or faith will have a powerful impact in delivering our messages about what PP is and how women and their families can get help.”

Catherine Cho, author of Inferno, shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer Award, which recounts her experience of postpartum psychosis says: Maternal mental health, particularly in Black and Asian communities, has an added layer of cultural pressure and shame. It's often viewed as something that should be kept quiet and hidden away. I hope that by opening up the conversation around perinatal mental health, we can show that these experiences do not have to be feared or kept in the dark." 

To read Catherine’s story, you can buy her book, Inferno, from all good bookstores and online with Waterstones.

Anyone representing a faith or community group who would like to arrange for a talk from APP, or any maternity/perinatal mental health professionals who would like to get involved, should email Shaheda at shaheda@app-network.org or message her on Twitter @Shaheda_APP

Mother and Baby Unit Pamper Packs

A huge thank you to APP Volunteer Gemma for organising pamper packs to be delivered at Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) at Christmas.

The packs included make-up items from Boots UK and Soap & Glory to help mums feel special, books from Book Trust for story time with babies and leaflets about APP’s peer support for mums and families. Gemma organised the packs as a way of giving mums a little bit of “me time” to help their recovery, alongside the invaluable help and treatment the MBUs provide.  She also hoped that the Nursery Nurses and other staff would find the books useful in encouraging mother and baby bonding.

Gemma has been a volunteer with APP since 2018, and has also held a fundraiser for APP. She says “I suffered with postpartum psychosis in 2017.  Through this I gained an understanding of severe anxiety and depression and wanted to train as a peer supporter in 2018 in order to support others through their recovery journey. I also support the Birmingham project through attending the cafe group and really enjoy making a positive impact on others’ recovery. Last Christmas I returned to my own MBU in Stafford and was able to thank staff and provide a small amount of pamper packs. This year I wanted to reach every MBU in the UK over Christmas, as this period can be so difficult. I feel this is such an important step for mums not only to promote relaxation and self-care, but more importantly to raise awareness of APP, the support available and the ways in which they can get in touch.”

We have received some lovely feedback from MBUs across the UK. Staff at the Rosewood MBU in Kent said “Thank you so much for the donations we have received today, the self-care packages and books are lovely, and I know something that will really support the mums’ recovery, especially while we have a few isolating. It could not have come at a better time. Also thank you for the leaflets which are really helpful to give to families and provide them with insight and knowledge that their loved ones will get better.”

Staff at the Thumbswood MBU in Hertfordshire said “Thank you very much for your support and showing the generosity towards our MBU. We have distributed the pamper packs to our mums and they were very thankful. I think it was a fabulous idea during this difficult time.”

Staff at the Livingston MBU, Scotland said “Our team was blown away with your generosity and hard work. We were all wondering what the delivery was and initially thought it was toner cartridges we were waiting on. As you can imagine we all got so excited and felt overwhelmed with the kindness you showed and gave to our mums.”

Thank you Gemma, for all your hard work in organising and delivering the packs to the MBUs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kate Stevenson-Pugh's hair shave for Action on Postpartum Psychosis!

A huge thank you to Kate Stevenson-Pugh who had her hair shaved on 12th December to raise awareness and money to support APP’s work.

Kate developed postpartum psychosis after the birth of her first baby.

Following the head shave, Kate said ‘Action on Postpartum Psychosis is such an important charity for women affected by PP and recovering. I’m absolutely thrilled that the total raised so far is up to just over £1,380 with gift aid. My hair is gone and my ears are chilly!’

Kate’s fundraiser has done a fantastic job of raising awareness, as well as funds, through her JustGiving page, which you can still visit and donate to here. Thank you Kate for your support of APP and to all who have donated.

If you have been inspired, we would love to support any fundraising ideas you have. Get in touch with us here.