Mums from across the Wiltshire and Bristol regions are being encouraged to share their experiences of infant feeding as part of a community story sharing project called Milk Monologues.
The project is open to keen to hear about all aspects of motherhood, including from mothers who have –
- Struggled with breastfeeding your baby.
- Used infant formula from day one.
- Exclusively expressed and bottle fed.
- Are a parent of a pre-term baby.
- Are a transgender or non-binary parent.
- Experienced birth trauma which affected your feeding journey.
- Have adopted or fostered your infant.
- Are disabled, or your child is.
- Faced family opposition because of how you chose to feed.
- Are feeding a toddler or older child.
Whatever your story, they want to hear it!
The project is being developed by Wiltshire-based organisation Light and Lark which has received funding from Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Fund, and from the Trowbridge Area Board’s Health and Well-being fund, towards its community story sharing project. Co-producers Natalie Remington and Rebecca Megson Smith, mums themselves, will use the money to help reveal the truth about the surprisingly taboo subject of early-infant feeding.
The project has been in gestation for two years and was inspired by Melksham mum Natalie’s voluntary work as a breastfeeding peer supporter which revealed the many struggles and triumphs of infant feeding. Natalie realised there was a damaging and isolating silence around the realities of the experience, especially for new and first time mothers.
“Milk Monologues is a participation project with parents and caregivers, giving them the opportunity to share their stories about the life-changing experience of infant feeding, in a safe, supportive and fun way,” explained Natalie.
“This past year in particular has shown us how desperately we need communities – they say it takes a village to raise a child, this project aims to reseed the village around the subject of infant feeding.”
One of the most important aspects of Milk Monologues is having an inclusive process – mums will be paid for their time in the sessions, while a creche will be available on site. For mums who can’t attend in person, their stories can be shared via 1-2-1 online sessions and a virtual whole group session will open up the self-created village, to reach more women around the country and even globally.
Many of the practitioners working on the project are parents themselves and the programme has been built with the complex demands of parenting and working in the theatre and the arts in mind.
Rebecca said, “Many people who have previously worked within a performance or production background have to drastically reduce their output, or often change career altogether when they start a family.
“We passionately believe that parents working in the arts should feel valued and empowered to continue their practice. Working with guidance from PIPA, we are instilling values within our working practice that help artists feel supported, with flexible approaches, an open and honest understanding of people’s needs, and onsite childcare where appropriate.”
Natalie is returning to her roots, in the town where she went to 6th form, and where her parents still reside. She is also delighted to be returning to Trowbridge Town Hall, where she has worked on and off for many years, in many different capacities.
Director of Trowbridge Town Hall, David Lockwood, added, “I’m delighted that Trowbridge Town Hall will be able to support Light & Lark with Milk Monologues.
“Our aim is to increase creativity, confidence and cohesion in Trowbridge. This project will not only develop creativity – as would be expected in a cultural project – it also has the potential to greatly enhance confidence in participants and audiences. By tackling a subject that is rarely – if ever – discussed in public, Milk Monologues could be a transformative project.
“We’re lucky in Trowbridge to have theatre-makers as talented as Light & Lark and I’m delighted that we’re able to support their creative projects with space, support and connections to our wider community.”
The Milk Monologues live creative story sharing workshops will take place 20 September at Trowbridge Town Hall and on 13 September at The Tobacco Factory Theatre in Bristol, with both dates offering morning sessions at 10am – 11.30am and afternoon sessions 12.30pm – 2pm.
“Please note that although participation is open to all, we would particularly like to hear from people from underrepresented groups, and we will be allocating spaces in specialised workshops where applicable,” added Natalie.
CALL Natalie 07855 080092 Rebecca 07753 241109