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Kent mums plan march on Kent County

Council to protest breastfeeding support


cuts
Angry mums in Kent will take to the streets next week, on Wednesday 22nd November, in
protest at planned cuts to breastfeeding support services. Delivering the final results of their
petition and taking their views to the Council, they will start their march at Maidstone West
Railway station at 10am.

“Everyone is welcome at our peaceful march” said Tannice Hemming, founder of


KeepKentBreastfeeding.org​, the local grassroots campaign she runs from her home in
Bearsted, Maidstone. “We want a big show of support from everyone with an interest in
breastfeeding, so there will be mums with their little ones, breastfeeding professionals and
breastfeeding peer support volunteers there”.

The protest comes after Kent County Council originally announced their planned cuts to the
current service earlier this year, in July. This original consultation was pulled amidst
widespread media attention and criticism from professionals and interested mums alike.

Campaigners met with the council in September and were initially happy with how the
council listened. But their hopes were dashed in October when the consultation was
re-released with little to no real changes to the original proposals.

“We felt like they really listened to us and heard why we were concerned about the proposal”
said Mrs Hemming, who volunteers as a breastfeeding peer supporter and is an expectant
mother who already has a daughter. “That’s why the second consultation release was so
shocking and disappointing. We felt like we’ve been fobbed off.”

The campaigners have several concerns, but top of the list is the plan to completely slash
open access to breastfeeding specialists. Currently, those who visit many of the drop-in
breastfeeding groups available around the county can, if they need to, see an Internationally
Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) or a Breastfeeding Counsellor. Access to
Breastfeeding Counsellors is being removed entirely from the new service, which will now be
run by Health Visitors and the re-named ‘infant feeding peer supporters’. Access to IBCLCs
will be by appointment only in just 4 clinics across the county, with just 6 appointments per
week. Campaigners say they’re extremely concerned that this will mean waiting for far too
long and will ultimately mean the end of so many mothers’ breastfeeding journeys.

To join the march and show your support, please be at Maidstone West Railway station at
10am on Wednesday 22nd November prepared to walk towards Sessions House, which is
Kent County Council’s HQ in Maidstone, less than a mile away.
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For more details, please visit keepkentbreastfeeding.org. Media enquiries to Tannice


Hemming in the first instance through www.fb.me/keepkentbf

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