Uncategorized Archives - PANDAS Foundation UK


Volunteers’ Week Spotlight: CAROLINE

“One day I hope to be a kind, competent midwife somewhere in the East Midlands, and I think the work I’ve done with PANDAS and what I’ve learnt will definitely help me to be empathetic and more aware of perinatal mental health.”

Caroline from the East Midlands is our kind and passionate social media volunteer. We are proud to have Caroline as part of our team.

  1. Please tell us about yourself? 

I’m Caroline, from the East Midlands. Mum of two and married to a teacher. I’m currently a social media and PR professional but also attend college as I am retraining as a midwife and start university in September.

2) How did you hear about PANDAS and what made you want to join as a volunteer?

I decided to volunteer for PANDAS because I have supported friends through postnatal mental health issues and had seen that getting the right support makes a lot of difference. It was also helpful for me to get relevant work experience for my application for university and mental-health in pregnancy / postnatally isn’t always covered in much depth at university so it was a double-whammy, in terms of me wanting to volunteer. When I saw the role of social media volunteer advertised, it was perfect for the skills I use in my day job too so I applied straight away.

3) What is your role and what do you do? How does it work around your family and home life/other jobs/commitments?

I am a social media volunteer for Pandas, and that means that one day a week I look after our social media accounts, posting motivational and informative content to our audience. I also provide support to service users who get in touch over social media, and signpost them to our other services if they are looking for 1-2-1 support. I work 2 days a week, go to college 3 days a week and have my children at weekends and school holidays, but because of the fact you can access social media anywhere, I manage to volunteer around these commitments. I will schedule posts to go out, so I don’t have to remember to do it during a busy work day, and I will make time throughout the day to check messages and post comments and responds to questions and requests for support.

4) Please tell us how you have supported someone?

Although the main role of a social media volunteer is to signpost service users to our helpline, email support, support groups or FB closed group, on numerous occasions I have had lengthy chats with service users over Facebook messages, building rapport and supporting them when they’re feeling that they are struggling. Often, I can see that it’s helpful to them to know that someone is listening, is there and cares. I know that I can’t make someone feel better on my own, but if I help them know that they aren’t alone, that support is out there and that things will improve, that makes it all worthwhile.

Also, increasing our social media following and engagement levels is really rewarding, knowing that people like what we do, feel boosted by our posts is lovely.

5) Please tell us how donations, support and fundraising help the foundation?

Everything we do is run by volunteers, but we still need funds to be able to offer our services. I know that the volunteers on the helpline and email support do a fantastic job and it would be great if the face-to-face support group team had more resources to set up groups in locations where we aren’t currently, to make those services more accessible to more parents.

Also, I think that we could expand our range of digital services to suit how some people like to access support – kind of like an online chat function that’s private, as some people feel nervous about calling in.

I’d also like us to be able to support the people who raise funds for us more – with branded tshirts etc to show to the world that they’re supporting us 

And finally…

One day I hope to be a kind, competent midwife somewhere in the East Midlands, and I think the work I’ve done with PANDAS and what I’ve learnt will definitely help me to be empathetic and more aware of perinatal mental health.


Mindfulness at Christmas

Mindfulness at Christmas, by Charlotte Saker


When I think of mindfulness I think of ‘living in the moment’.  It’s also about meditation, increasing your awareness and watching the world go by.  With so much going on over the next week or so it can be particularly hard to stop and just allow yourself to be in the moment, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I’ve had quite a hard and stressful week with loads going on in my personal life, PANDAS Adventwhich typically always happens doesn’t it, when you’ve got lots to do to prepare for something such as Christmas.  As I drove home in the dark the other night I tried to think about being mindful.  I looked at the Christmas lights on people’s houses and really tried to focus on what they looked like, how they made me feel.  I tried not to think about all the other things going on and just be in that moment.  I found it hard, so I searched around for some tips on being mindful at Christmas, and here are my suggestions: Read More

PANDAS Advent Blog – Organisation

Organisation, by Charlotte Saker

When I think of Christmas it usually always involves; snow, a lovely big tree, a great roast dinner, and happy family surrounding me.  Unfortunately, most of those do not happen.  Christmas Day is often dull and overcast, the only tree that I can afford or that can fit into the living room is fairly small and something nearly always gets burnt or under-cooked at lunchtime.  And as for happy families, I don’t think I can remember a Christmas when there weren’t arguments.  Read More

Infant Loss Study Day with Chantal Lockey – by Nina Dawson

Infant loss. One of the great taboos in society. Most people know someone who has had a loss of some sort, but the overriding sense is that it’s not the “done thing” to talk about it. However, one team is working hard to change all that. Chantal Lockey and the team at the Foundation for Infant Loss Training offer infant loss training to all those who wish to learn more about how to support loved ones and families through a devastating time.

As an aspiring midwife, my emotions and my abilities to support women through these hard times is a massive worry of mine. So when the opportunity to take part in one of these sessions through PANDAs arose, naturally, I jumped at the chance. I booked my train tickets and headed off to Birmingham. Of course, the train pulled in late and the nerves hit me hard.

I walked into the room. Late. Not the first impression I had wanted. Chantal was already speaking and explaining what we were going to go through during the day. I sat down and she moved on to her reason for starting the training. Let me tell you, Chantal is a true inspiration. After suffering a loss that hit her so hard and made her feel so neglected by the professionals, she went on to ensure that hundreds of other women wouldn’t feel the same by providing some outstanding training to current and aspiring health professionals. Just hearing her story was enough to make me want to jump straight back on a train and hug my little boy incredibly tight.

Then came the videos. Oh, the videos! On each and every one there was not a dry eye in the house. The first was a memorial a couple made to their stillborn child. So perfect and amazing, gone too soon. As soon as the first bars of music played on the first video, my eyes welled and I felt like I was feeling what the couple and the family were feeling. As I’m one of those that cries at cute adverts (blooming Christmas was a nightmare!) this wasn’t a surprise. What did surprise me was the appreciation I felt towards the healthcare professionals in this case. That the parents were given time to introduce the baby to the extended family and to take pictures was so heart-warming. It made me realise just what sort of midwife I would like to be. One with compassion and the ability to really support the parents the way they want. I learned so much; how to support the parents throughout every part of the process, the tools available to help and the different support groups out there.

And that was the resounding message of the day. Support is key. Whether it be infant loss or PND, talking to someone and having someone to listen is one of the most important things in life. Whether that person is family, a friend, a healthcare professional or a volunteer just having someone to talk to can be the difference between a good and bad day. Of course, there will be bad days but just knowing someone is there for you can make a huge difference. I walked out of that room, liberated and feeling like I really could make a difference in someone’s life, no matter how small. And for that I thank Chantal.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.