Mum who went through post-natal depression marks 10 years of helping others

The founder of Shine Lauraine Cheesman
The founder of Shine, Lauraine Cheesman -Credit:Shine PND

A Gloucestershire charity that offers creative art therapy courses, peer support and weekly drop-in sessions for struggling mums is celebrating a decade of hard work. Founded in 2014 by Lauraine Cheesman, Shine PND does important work to help mums and dads who are potentially going through depression, anxiety, isolation or the overwhelming experience of having a child.

Marking Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 (April 29 to May 5), when Lauraine began the journey of setting up Shine little did she know that a ten year milestone would be reached.

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Experiencing her own battle with depression and anxiety, Lauraine experienced extreme maternal mental illness and now has a desire to reach out to other families going through their own difficult journey.

Through Shine, mums can be armed with coping strategies and empowering information and since beginning in 2014, the charity has supported over 250 mums and families. "When I started Shine as just a little support group to now popping up across the county and helping so many mums, I feel really proud," Lauraine said.

"For us to reach ten years is really powerful and we have changed lives in a really positive way. Raising awareness (of maternal mental health) is so important because the less of the stigma the more likely mums who are struggling come forward to speak," Lauraine adds. "It's important to understand that it is common to feel depressed from having a baby and it is hard because you can judge yourself and feel that you're not being a good mum."

Hannah Garrett and Kirsty Griffiths at the Gloucestershire Deaf Association in Barnwood, Gloucester. Both Hannah and Kirsty help mums at Shine PND.
Hannah Garrett and Kirsty Griffiths at the Gloucestershire Deaf Association in Barnwood, Gloucester. Both Hannah and Kirsty help mums at Shine PND. -Credit:Will Luker

Shine PND itself runs in Cirencester and Dursley but in recent times has expanded to Gloucester. Since February 2024, mums Hannah Garrett and Kirsty Griffiths from the city always wanted to open up Shine courses for the community. Travelling to Cirencester was not the easiest thing to do so setting up sessions at the Gloucestershire Deaf Association building in Barnwood is important to both.

Going through post-natal depression after her eldest son, Hannah's first encounter with Shine had "a massive impact on me. I know how mums feel when they might come to our sessions for the first time as you feel like you lose your identity. We're a charity that focuses on the mum whilst also looking after our babies. Sometimes mums can get pushed aside because the baby takes priority but we must always check on ourselves as mums", Hannah said.

Hannah adds that in Gloucester "we are here for mums and there's no pressure. I struggled with baby groups and I feel that Shine is relaxed and we have professionals where mums can sit with a cup of tea and just talk."

With toys out on the floor and watching their babies as they meet up, Kirsty herself has a background in creative therapy, where it is important to stress that Shine work with Gloucestershire Bundles and the Nelson Trust, where issues such as domestic violence and cost of living issues (including foodbank usage) can be talked about.

A community of support, Kirsty also went through post-natal depression. "We are a really relaxed environment and we never overwhelm the Shine mummies we look after. We need to spread the word on what we do because there are mums out there who do need help because it speaks to them that they exist and their worries can be helped", Kirsty said.

You find out more about Shine here.