Selena Foster was inspired to set up a Happy Faces group after her daughter Lorena was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate in 2012: “When Lorena was born we had so many questions and I really wanted to meet with other parents in a similar situation”. Selena had been supporting CLAPA through fundraising for a while and became a
n official CLAPA volunteer in January 2014. In April 2014, she trained as a CLAPA Parent Contact, in order to gain the skills she needed to support other parents.
Selena worked with Becky Gowers, CLAPA’s Central England Regional Coordinator and the West Midlands Cleft service to set up Redditch Happy Faces. She found a venue – a local Children’s Centre with lots of toys (and some comfy chairs!) and set a regular date – the first Friday of every month. The launch date was set for 2ndMay 2014 and work began to promote the group through social media, at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Cleft Clinic and via the local Cleft Nurse, who encouraged her patients to attend.
The first meeting was a great success, with 6 families getting together to share their experiences and support each other and since then more new families have joined the group at subsequent meetings. Parents, siblings and grandparents have all been welcomed along to the group and Selena also looks forward to welcoming some expectant parents in the near future.
The West Midlands Cleft Service have been very supportive of the group and have been promoting it to their patients: “We are so pleased this group has launched Redditch – we know how valuable it is for families to meet other parents and children and we are encouraging our patients to attend”. – Senga David, West Midlands Cleft Service Manager.