Six UK mums whose charities provide vital support for struggling and grieving families have been hand-picked by The National Lottery to feature on a special Mother’s Day podcast with TV star Anna Williamson.
Charities across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were singled out by The National Lottery for their inspirational initiatives including providing equipment for children, helping those who have suffered loss and supporting mental health.
The six parents were chosen to appear on three separate episodes of the National Lottery’s ‘It Takes A Village’ podcast, an uplifting and informative mini-series – hosted by Celebs Go Dating star and mum-of-two Anna – which shines a light on some of the Lottery-funded charities who offer support at this difficult time.
Mum-of-two Sophie Livingstone, CEO of charity Little Village, was one parent to appear on the podcast for her project’s inspirational work providing clothes, toys and equipment for babies and children across hubs in Camden, Wandsworth, Battersea and Southwark.
And Sophie, mum to Clara, seven, and Eliza, two, believes the series is raising vital awareness ahead of Mother’s Day on March 14th.
Sophie, 43, who lives in South London with her two children and husband Simon Bishop, said: “It’s a great recognition of all the work that has gone on over the last five years, and the centrality of mums to what we do.
“This year more than ever, mums need thanking and recognising, and particularly the mums in the circumstances we’re supporting.
“It was a really good opportunity to shine a light on the difficult circumstances a lot of these families are having to survive through.”
Ahead of Mother’s Day on Sunday, each episode of the It Takes A Village podcast focuses on different themes around motherhood such as supporting your mental and physical health, providing essential items for your child or dealing with grief and pain.
The mini-series is hosted by Celebs Go Dating star Anna, who has also worked on major national programmes and is a published author, qualified counsellor and ambassador for several charities.
And the mum-of-two, who lives in Hertfordshire with husband Alex Di Pasquale and children Enzo, four, and Eleanora, one, said: “This is the perfect idea in the world of podcasting to bring to life some of the stories behind the amazing charities and causes that are helped by National Lottery funding.
“I’ve worked with The National Lottery for years and have got to know personally about the good causes and categories that funding goes into.
“Over £1billion has gone towards good causes from The National Lottery during the pandemic, and the incredible women that I spoke to are doing so much to affect their local communities.
“Hosting this podcast series has reaffirmed my passion and pride for every single mother’s story.”
Other charities to feature on the podcasts included Glasgow-based Baby Loss Retreat and the UK-wide Stillbirth and neonatal death society (SANDS), who offer crucial support to families who have suffered any form of baby loss.
Cardiff project Cwtch were the other charity to appear with Sophie on episode one of the podcast – on the importance of baby banks and accessing support – while Northern Ireland projects Women’s Centre Derry and Fit Moms & Kids featured on the final episode about mental health.
The podcast’s second episode – on grief and loss – focused on several sensitive topics and Julie Morrison, Founder of Baby Loss Retreat in 2018, believes the series is crucially addressing the stigma around loss.
Mum-of-three Julie, 40, whose daughter Erin was tragically stillborn in 2003, said: “When The National Lottery came to me and asked me to do the podcast with Anna, I was really happy.
“It’s raising awareness of baby loss, which is a taboo subject. A lot of people don’t know how to react to it if they haven’t experienced loss, so doing this podcast is raising awareness and showing how important it is.
“It was special and really emotional for me [to be involved] because of what I’ve experienced.”
Hilary Johnston, Founder of Welsh charity Cwtch, and Leanne Evans, Founder and CEO of Northern Ireland’s Fit Moms & Kids, featured on the episode about providing essential baby supplies and supporting mental health respectively.
Both hailed the impact of the podcast and thanked National Lottery players for allowing their projects to thrive.
Hilary, who has three children, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, said: “It’s crucial to shine a light on the fact we are out there helping families and need support to carry on.
“Without National Lottery grants, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. I can’t believe how generous people have been over the past year.”
And Leanne, who founded Fit Moms & Kids six years ago and has since helped thousands of families across County Antrim, added: “I was more than happy to contribute and it was really good to take part.
“National Lottery funding was vital for us to be able to continue – and we are grateful to National Lottery players for their support.”
National Lottery players raise £30 million a week for good causes. National Lottery funding to support the UK-wide response to the coronavirus pandemic has exceeded £1 billion during the last year. To find out more about how to access extra support at this time, listen to ‘It Takes A Village’ now via lotterygoodcauses.org.uk, Spotify or on Apple Podcasts