Spoons was set up by Kirsten in 2015. Initially she started a community support group aimed at parents who had a baby on the neonatal intensive care unit at Royal Oldham Hospital. Kirsten was soon joined by friends Lee & Sarah, who had both had a baby in neonatal care and Spoons was formed. The community group became popular with parents and Kirsten volunteered on the neonatal unit at Royal Oldham Hospital, providing peer support to parents. Spoons started to offer support to parents on the neonatal unit at North Manchester General Hospital and also started fundraising to support both units to improve family facilities. Spoons continued to grow and engage with more families on the neonatal units and within the wider community. As we engaged with more families, more people started to fundraise. In 2016 Spoons became a registered charity and we have continued to grow year on year.

Spoons now has a peer support service in neonatal units across Greater Manchester as well as range of community resources.

kirsten

Kirsten

Founder & Operations Manager

My little boy Tom was born at 24 weeks in 2014 and spent 127 days in neonatal care. I met lots of parents on the neonatal unit, and we all supported each other. I found the transition from hospital to home really difficult. I was very anxious and found it difficult to engage with universal baby groups and communities. I really missed the relationships I had with my peers on the neonatal unit. I felt that I could create something to bring neonatal families together. I am really proud to have grown Spoons organically from a community group to thriving charity. I still offer peer support to families on the neonatal unit and am a trained peer supporter.

Shahnaz family support coordinator

Shahnaz

Family Support Coordinator

My youngest daughter was born at 29 weeks gestation and was diagnosed with Downs Syndrome, she also has Atrioventricular septal defect (ASVD). As a parent on the unit I accessed support from the Spoon volunteers, which was very beneficial for me and my family. I later became a Spoons peer support volunteer and have helped many families. My role is to help parents navigate life on the neonatal unit and support them in the transition from hospital to home. I have a special interest in supporting families from Black, Asian and Minority Communities.

spoons charity group leader

Beth

Community Group Leader

My son Joseph was born at 31 weeks and was admitted to neonatal care for five weeks. Two years later I became a peer support volunteer for Spoons, helping other parents and talking to them also helped me. I absolutely love being part of the charity and I love working with amazing, strong families. As well as my volunteer role, I am now also employed by the charity as a Play Leader and run the community messy play sessions. My professional background is in Early Years. Supporting parents to have fun and build their own support networks with their peers in a safe space.

spoons community group leader

Jen

Community Group Leader

My little girl Indie-Mae who was born at 39+5 weeks after induction. When she was born she experienced an Hypoxic-Ischaemic Encephalopathy (HIE) event and was transferred to NICU for full body cooling. Spoons helped me in the months that followed, so I wanted to do something to give back and decided to become a peer support volunteer on NICU. Alongside my volunteer role, which I love, I am also Community Group Play Leader. I am a teacher with a background in teaching primary school children and have been able to transfer my skills to provide educational, safe sensory play sessions for babies and their parents.

spoons-neonatal-peer-support

Aimée

Family Support Coordinator

In 2018 my son Leo was born at 29 weeks and spent nearly 2 months in neonatal care. The emotional impact of my experience on NICU didn't hit home until I had my daughter 17 months later. She was born at 32 weeks and also admitted onto the neonatal unit. As a parent I felt there was little understanding from mainstream groups and services into the challenges and impact around neonatal care. I turned to Spoons for support and found genuine empathy from people who shared similar experiences to my own. As a Family Support Coordinator I help families with any challenges they may be facing. Along with the wider support team I aim to develop and shape Spoons' services to ensure that families receive the care and support that best meets their needs.

Sarah

Trustee

My daughter was born at 31 weeks gestation. What had happened didn't really hit me until after she came home and I felt isolated and 'different' to other new mums. To have been able to talk to other parents who had been through a similar experience would have made all the difference to me but there was nothing like this available at that time. When Kirsten first talked to me about setting up Spoons I was keen to be involved as I wanted to help make a difference to other families going through what we had. I have been able to apply my management skills to my role as a trustee.

Khadija

Trustee

My daughter Alizah was born 8 weeks early and admitted to neonatal care straight after birth. My brother was born premature 25 years ago so my only experience of premature birth was based on this. During our 5 weeks on the unit I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. The Highs of Alizah having her first breast feed or coming out of the incubator paled in comparison to the lows of not being with her. I was supported by Spoons on the unit and we continued our journey with Spoons once Alizah left NICU by attending coffee mornings and weaning sessions. I love the passion that Spoons trustees, fundraisers and volunteers have to support parents and families. I feel that I bring my personal experience and skills gained through working in the NHS to support the charity.

Portrait Photo of Pamela

Pamela

Trustee

My second son was born almost ten weeks premature at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and he spent a month and a half on a neonatal unit. The start of the pandemic was a scary time for the whole world but to have a baby on a neonatal unit during this period where we didn't really know anything about the virus was nothing short of terrifying. I was in survival mode and my mental health suffered. When we finally got to take our son home I realised we were victims of the healthcare postcode lottery and that the area in which we lived did not commission neonatal outreach services. Thankfully a member of the nursing team had given Spoons details to my husband and, through the charity, we were able to access information that helped us care for our son in those early days and I was personally able to receive trauma therapy. My professional background is in marketing, communications and fundraising and I am incredibly proud to be a trustee of Spoons and to be supporting a charity that has given my own family so much.

Tracey

Trustee

I became a Trustee with Spoons in 2019, after becoming aware of the great work delivered by Spoons when I was developing the clinical service strategy as part of my role with the Northern Care Alliance. I am a clinician by background, but latterly in my career went into leading transformation across complex health and care systems. My daughter was born at 34 weeks gestation, and spent 6 weeks in NICU in Buckinghamshire in 1991 - without any of the amazing support offered by Spoons. It was an emotionally difficult time and I felt quite isolated and ill-equipped. I am constantly blown away by the selfless work the peer volunteers provide and the difference it make and will makes to parents experiencing neonatal care across GM. My role as a Trustee is to apply my lived experience, management and leadership skills to help shape our strategic plans and operational delivery, inline with the national directives and local need.

Spoons Peer Support Volunteers

We have a fantastic team of peer support volunteers who use their lived experience of neonatal care to support others. Here are a few of them

Gemma

I am a teacher and mother of 2 boys who are now 8 and 4. Both my boys experienced neonatal care for a relatively short time, but we still found this a really stressful time. Both boys had breathing problems after being born by c section at 37 and 36 weeks. I am type one diabetic and both boys had to be early before they got too big - a common issue with diabetic mums. My experience at North Manchester neonatal unit was before Spoons and at the time I felt very alone, although the nurses were absolutely amazing and so supportive. I wanted to become a volunteer to help and support other parents who might be going through the same thing and to hopefully prevent them from feeling isolated.

Janine

My son Jude was born in January 2015 at 29 weeks. He weighed 2lb 14oz. We had an 8 week stay on NICU at Royal Oldham Hospital which became my second home. It was a complete rollercoaster of a journey. The support of the nurses and doctors was nothing short of amazing and Jude is now a healthy 5-year-old and full of beans! I wanted to become a volunteer for Spoons so I could give something back and support other families who might feel the way I did on NICU.

spoons dads

Dave

My Name is Dave, I’m one of the Peer Support Volunteers for Spoons and I volunteer at St Mary’s NICU. I offer peer support, in person to parents and extended family on the unit. I can usually be found around the unit on a Tuesday afternoon. I also have a keen interest in supporting and championing dads, grandads and other male family or close friends of families experiencing neonatal. Outside of Spoons I am married to Laura and together we are parents of Caleb and our very own NICU graduate Reuben. Professionally I’m a HGV driver. Having been through NICU as a parent I experienced first hand the ups, downs, highs and lows along with the anxiety that naturally forms in the NICU environment. An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is completely normal. I am here to try and make that journey a little easier.

spoons-neonatal-peer-support

Maryam

Hi my name is Maryam. I am a mum of two beautiful children Azraa age 9 and Abu age 7. My son Abu was admitted to Royal Bolton NICU when he was born at 37 weeks. Abu was born with complex health needs which no one prepares you for. The team at Bolton were amazing and supported us in every way that they could. Being in NICU was a completely crazy journey and taught me many things in life. Now as a volunteer I have a chance to be there for other parents in similar situations. I really enjoy my role as a peer support volunteer.

spoons-neonatal-peer-support

Beth

Hello, I’m Beth. My little boy Miren was born almost 10 weeks early and we spent 5 weeks between North Manchester and Oldham NICU. Some of my closest friends have had premature babies but nothing ever prepares you for it when it happens to you. We all received amazing care and support from the neonatal staff and Spoons and I knew at some point I would like to help others. I am now a peer support volunteer at Royal Bolton NICU and I feel very privileged to do this role and support families in any way that I can.

Can you make a difference?

Get Involved