Want to start up your own group?
Read on for some tips by twinsclubbers who did just that – hopefully they’ll inspire you to get cracking and start up your own club.
Hi. I am Karoline, Lancashire twins & more clubs co-ordinator, and I am mum to three children, Sean, and my twins Cerys and Jacob. I am married to John, who is lucky enough to get a break from us as he works away and usually only spends Saturday afternoons and Sundays with us.
Sean was a few weeks short of turning 3 yrs old when Cerys and Jacob were born. Because Sean was a premature baby and had developmental problems, I had not rushed into having another child.
Sean was born at 33 weeks and I really didn’t want to go through the emotional turmoil that goes hand in hand with a neonatal baby again.
Shortly after his birth he had a substantial bleed into his brain, and it would be a while until we knew if it had caused any damage. (He/we are lucky because his problems have not turned out to be severe and he seems like any other child in his school) I was anxious about another premature baby but when I became pregnant again I had prepared myself for the possibility of another prem baby I just didn’t bank on having two babies!
My twin pregnancy was not the easy time I had hoped for, and I had to stay in hospital for 5 weeks before I gave birth at 33 weeks & 2 days to Cerys and Jacob. They were whisked off to Neonatal, but thankfully they were OK.just small, and unable to suck, therefore they had to be tube fed. I was thankful that I was not as jumpy when I re-entered neonatal to visit my new babiesthe familiar sound of bleeps and ticks were a lot less distressing second time around.
However our time over the next few weeks was still very emotional and we suffered many set backs with Cerys and Jacob’s progress until we finally came home a couple of months later. We did have a few problems when we returned home, and ended up returning to hospital in an ambulance with its blue lights flashing, but my twins are now 5yrs old, and although Jacob has developmental problems (although not diagnosed as yet his symptoms/behaviour are similar to that of a child who is on the autistic spectrum). We are a healthy happy family and I would not change anything at all.
This is why I wanted to set up a twin club When I found out I was expecting twins I wanted to ask so many questions, but I soon realised that only another parent of twins could answer them honestly, and from experience! I was fortunate as I had the chance to meet other twin parents, but after my babies were born I was unable to meet with other mums as the club had stopped meeting. During those twin meetings that I was able to get to, I gained a valuable insight into multiple life, I was then able to form my own action plan for life with two babies and a toddler. The meetings with other parents of twins also gave me access to buy equipment for my babies, so I managed to save money too.
After the twin club folded, the nearest club to Preston was in Bolton (approx three quarters of an hour by car). I knew that it was going to prove difficult to get to on a regular basis. I wanted there to be the same opportunities for other parents of twins or more. Since I had given birth to my twins I realised how important that there was a time and a place for parents of multiples and expectant parents to meet. Every twin/triplet/quad mum needs to know she is not the only one who has difficult and stressful times. The friends I had with children just did not seem to have any understanding of some of the difficulties that I faced.even though most of my friends had more than one child and gave me sympathy!
I thought that I would throw caution to the wind and go about setting up a twins and more club myself. After all how difficult can it be to organise a get together of twins and their parents? I was soon to discover that twins, triplets and more were not seen as a group of people to help..I rang a few venues and no one was willing to hire let alone give a free space to meet. I eventually received a return phone call from the CVS centre, I had tried them but thought it was the last of the conversation�..I was wrong! We had a free room for 2 meetings.at last!
The first meeting was set for September 2001 and five sets of twins and their parents came along�.the club has since steadily grown in numbers and many friendships have been formed between parents of twin or more! Preston twins & more club has now changed its name because we decided to branch out and start clubs in Leyland, Chorley & Ormskirk. To reflect the membership of the club, it is now called Lancashire twins & more club The atmosphere at our twins & more meetings is very different to other parent and child based get together as a parent of twins or more, very often you feel isolated, and left to struggle through the session on your own. This is not the norm for our meetings.it is usual for you to be sat down whilst many other hands help out with your children!!
How I set up my twins club By Susan Monk
When I first found out I was pregnant with twins my consultant promised to give me the number of another mother pregnant with twins. This didn’t happen. Then when my daughters were born I was told by the baby clinic that they’d be setting up a twins club due to a high number of twins born recently after the Christmas, when we got to February I figured this wasn’t going to happen so began to have thoughts about setting one up myself.
It was around this time that I discovered www.twinsclub.co.uk, and within a week I asked on the forums for anyone who lived near me who would be interested in helping me set up a twinsclub. I got replies from Kirsty (KC), Jayne and Caroline (Caroline21) who all lived close. And who still can be relied on to turn up at almost every single meeting! Thanks girls!!!!!! I set about making a poster attracting people to join a group we were setting up. At that point I had no idea where we were going to hold meetings, I just wanted to generate interest. I then proceeded to place posters up everywhere I could think of. The local shopping mall notice boards, shops notice boards, the health centres, the leisure centre placed posters up in their playland area, and also an independent baby clothes retailer who I knew sold preemie clothes. (The bigger stores such as Adams need you to write to their managers to ask permission).
Also our local Boots who over the past few months seem to have kindly adopted us and tell people about the group even when they�ve ran out of posters, they don’t just leave them on the counter, they actually hand them out. The other local chemist has posters in there too, it makes sense as we mums often buy our nappies there, and go there for prescription milk and creams etc. I rang my consultant who said for me to mail her a letter and some posters for permission and she hands out details to every multiple pregnancy she scans. I then approached the SCBU where the girls stayed and they also have posters up, as well as the maternity ward.
The health centre we attend actually contacted me and offered to deliver our posters to all new mums with twins on their books, and another health visitor (mum of teenage twins herself) from another health centre offered to do the same at her clinic. Then I was contacted by the girl who runs the baby clinic and told that we could have the baby clinic room free of charge until we could acquire funding to hire our own premises. I then booked two first meetings for a month later and set about generating as much interest as I could.
I rang the two local free newspapers and had telephone interviews to advertise we were setting up, they both did what they said would be a small article but due to a quirk of fate, we got a half page spread in each paper, which was great. From the beginning I was in contact with the local Sure Start Community Development Worker (she used to be a playworker at our playgroup). She has helped me with finding out the details of locations for meetings, helped us with our constitution and pointed us in the right direction for funding.
Our first meeting was a fantastic success, it ran for three hours, and within five minutes my first mum came. Within an hour we had 13 sets of twins and a set of triplets turn up. We did arrange a picture but only managed 8 mums and 19 kiddies in it, but enough I think to show just how successful we were (photo below). The next meeting had eight sets of twins and a set of triplets turn up and since then we’ve had an average of 6 sets each meeting. We did have one meeting where only myself and another mum turned up, but it was a chance for a nice quiet cup of tea instead of the usual bedlam so I wasn’t too disheartened. The group is a great chance for our kids to be with other twins, but its main aim is for us all to support each other, we’ve all been through the same things and even if we can’t advise, we can always sympathise in a way only parents of twins or more can!
At the second meeting Jayne kindly agreed to be our secretary, I am the chairperson and my husband (this is permitted) is the treasurer. Between Jayne and myself we named our group, Jayne suggested Northumbria Multiples to represent the area we cover, and I suggested More To Love to represent what our children are to us. So the group is named: More To Love – Northumbria Multiples Group. We listed the site on www.twinsclub.co.uk and also have a listing in the free newspaper each week under support groups. We have signed our constitution and are now in the process of opening up a bank account so we can apply for funding. Sure Start gave us a nice boost by granting us £150 to spend on toys, we chose them from the ELC and now have some great toys ranging from newborn playmates to pop up tents, tunnels and balls for the much older kids and older siblings that come during the school holidays.
The next step is to get some more posters out, I ask in every local shop we go to. I am going to be asking at another local hospital if their maternity ward and SCBU can put some posters up there, this hospital is a good place to find more twin mums as they are the local IVF hospital so have a higher rate of twins born there. Another mum locally is setting up an extension group so that mums like her who have no transport and live near her can attend her meetings instead.
The group can be hard work at times, I set up each meeting myself and have used my own money to produce posters and provide refreshments, we don’t charge a cover fee but once we have funding and new premises we will be asking for a nominal charge to cover refreshments in the future. We do need to get some insurance sorted out, I am waiting now for two quotes and this will be paid for out of any funding we receive. Hopefully I will be still running this group for a few years yet, maybe only take a back burner once the girls are in school, however, I will have more time then so we’ll see.
Oh, and one more thing, every new mum we get who hasn’t already heard, is gently pointed in the direction of twinsclub, in my opinion, the best website for multiple parents ever!
Susan Monk, founder, More to Love, Northumbria Multiples Group
Club Success by Lorraine Anderson
As a mother of five year old triplets, Harry, Laura and George, I found out early the importance of the advice from other multiple birth parents. They were the ones with the experience I knew that I could trust, as we all know, children of different ages is totally different to having two or more at the same age.
I felt early on in my journey into motherhood the frustrations, joy and sometimes dispair which we experience when feeling overwhelmed at a new situation. I was fortunate to live in Outwood near Wakefield, where I was the fourth set of triplets to be born in the village.
I became involved with both Leeds and Wakefield Twins Clubs, when the children were 5 months old, I loved the feeling of not being the odd one out, no one stared in wonder, no one asked personal or intrusive questions and best of all I soaked up tips from those in a position to give me some of the best advice I received.
I feel that being part of a Multiples Group is rewarding because this is where you are given support, advice but most of all, great friendships are formed. When the new group began we had very few members, some had moved onto pastures new as their children had outgrown us and others had little or no contact with us for one reason or another.
We overcame this by moving the group forward and trying hard to involve both Leeds and Wakefield members in our planning. We used the press to highlight the group and our activities, press love twins or triplets and if you think of unusual twists they will fall over themselves for the opportunity of a photograph.
We have had tremendous success especially with our play the modern day version of Noahs Ark, which was performed by nine sets of twins, two sets of triplets, It was set in a safari park in Yorkshire at the time of the floods, the ark was a people carrier and the mobile telephone replaced the dove. So many twins and triplets caused a media frenzy appearing in four newspapers and on local Television as well.
The children had a fantastic time, although 53 children could be a handful at times but we did manage to raise over £500 for club funds.
This year we have been on visits to West Yorkshire Police Helicopter, The Fire Station, Art Gallery, Museums, held a sponsored fancy dress walk in aid of the Meningitis Trust, held discos, B-B-Q’s, Easter Egg Hunt and recently our Multiple Sports Day, with tree and four legged races.
The aims of our group is to give, support, advice, friendship, promote & health, education and most importantly to make time to spend together as a family, whatever your family structure, family time is crutial in a world which never seems to stand still.
Publicity is essential as it raises the profile of your group and you should receive many inquiries from it. We regularly keep in close contact with all of the local maternity hospitals, providing them with details of our group meetings via newsletters and referrals are passed on in return.
This first twelve months saw many milestones, namely nine new groups being formed due to demand from members who needed groups close to where they live. We had a call from one health visitor who had over twenty sets of multiples under 5 on her books and wondered if we could help her set up a group and we were delighted to help. We have groups in Morley, Rothwell, Horsforth, Garforth (Leeds area), Pontefract, Selby, two in Wakefield and our new Special Needs Group.
All of these groups would not be up and running if it were not for the dedication and hard work our members put in. Every event we held so far this year has seen fantastic attendance and has been welcomed with enthusiasm which I admit is a real buzz.
I had a letter from one member (who shall remain anonymous) which came right from the heart stating how much she enjoyed a particular event and how welcome everyone had made her feel, she had suffered from depression, felt isolated and admitted that it was a huge effort to attend any of our groups. Afterwards she was elated to know others had been through similar situations and survived, this alone was worth more to me than any publicity we had ever had and It proved we were on the right track.
The other major milestone was our website which was set up by a twin dad Phil Atkinson and myself, I admit he is the web wizard while I provide the content. Many parents feel isolated and the web can reach out to those who are able to access the internet, content is provided by many members from personal birth experiences, information on our groups, discounts, events, contacts, items for sale, features and tips.
Tips for other clubs to consider :
Discounts – If you do not ask then you will not receive. Many play centres will love you to go on a regular basis as it is good for them, tell them you want half price for twins and triplets. A large jug of juice (free) is usual as you can say you are likely to stay longer and maybe buy snacks? Also get the local paper involved, good publicity for both of you.
Press – Find out your local reporters name, look in the paper for an article which you think is good, the reporters name is usually on there somewhere. Try calling them to compliment them on the article and introduce yourself to them, remember all reporters are vain, that is why they like to see their name in print. A good picture of twins, triplets or more will raise your profile but remember to think of an unusual twist, eg fancy dress walk, three blind mice, three bears, Bill and Ben etc
Grants – We have had success with all applications ranging from £300 to £1000, look in papers or on the web for local grant giving sources such as your local health authority. I feel that this is the way forward for our groups as we are only able to raise so much for ourselves and money used helps us to expand, making it more accessible to others.
Websites – There must be someone in your group or who you know who can help you set one up, if you do have one try doing a weekly email to members reminding them of forthcoming events. I have found this a particularly good way to increase attendance at meetings as parents of multiples can be forgetful sometimes.
Article kindly written and supplied by Lorraine Anderson, former Chairwoman of Leeds and Wakefield Multiples Group www.yorkshiremultiplesgroup.co.uk
Remember, If you don’t ask, you won’t get – ask for help in publicising your group from:
- Your local hospital ante-natal and ultrasound department
- Maternity ward
- Midwives, consultants and health clinics
- Your local sure start representative
- Your local local enterprise network (Business Gateway) office
Get a poster drawn up and distribute copies around:
- Your local chemist
- Your local health centre
- Hospital maternity, ultrasound and ante-natal wards
- Local shops/market/shopping centre
- Local park/playground
- School notice board
- Church magazine
You need to make as many people aware of the group as possible. The more people who know about it the more successful it will be:
- Post on the Twinsclub Forum to see if others in your area are willing to help/come along
- Once up and running, register your group with Twinsclub to let others know about it
- Afflilate your club to Tamba
Have fun!! Virtually everyone who has ever been to a twins club has benefitted in some small way, and it’s thanks to the people like Karoline and Susan (above) that they are given the chance. It might be hard work, and there may be days when you wished you had never started, but you are safe in the knowledge that you are helping others, and making the weeks a little brighter for some!
Did you set up your own club ? Let us know how you got on and we’ll feature your story here