When Isabel White’s daughter Elizabeth was born, the Isle of Dogs resident felt marooned.
She had waited years to have a child but now she was finally here the new mum struggled to cope.
Husband Iain had to return to work within weeks and, with her family hundreds of miles away in Canada, Isabel didn’t know who to turn to for help.
“I was aged 40 and having been a very confident businesswomen for years it completely knocked me for six when I got the baby blues,” said the mother-of-one.
“It was really difficult and I felt really isolated. I had a nightmare with breast-feeding and wished there was someone to point me in the direction of advice.
“I just didn’t have that local support network I have since realised is so beneficial to a new mum.”
Now the 44-year-old is determined to make sure others don’t have to struggle through her work with Community Parents .
The Isle Of Dogs based charity was set up in 2012 by midwife Rachel Redfearn, who was also instrumental in setting up the Barkantine Birth Centre.
Staff and volunteers support women, especially those who are vulnerable, on the Isle of Dogs and in Poplar during pregnancy and up to 12 months after the birth of their babies.
Over the last five years it has supported more than 120 mothers and each year helps around 600 families through free Pilates classes and coffee drop-in sessions.
Isabel discovered the charity by chance when her daughter was already 18 months old and realised how important their work was.
She signed up as a volunteer and earlier this year started a paid role as peer support coordinator, supervising the volunteers who visit mums at home.
A 2012 report by community organisation Parents 1st found mums who have peer support are confidently prepared for birth and parenthood, have improved confidence and parenting skills and they and their children have improved health and wellbeing.
Isabel, who is originally from Canada, said: “Because of the way this area’s population has exploded over the last few years there are people who just don’t have any social connections here.
“I had lived here for years but because I was busy with my career hadn’t made that many acquaintances.
“I had my own literary agency and thought of myself as very busy and together. But then I had to reduce my business to cope with being a mum.
“I had lots of life skills but no one to talk to who had been through the same experiences I was now dealing with.”
The charity costs £10,000 a month to run and relies on donations and its team of 30 volunteers to keep its work going.
It is due to run out of funds in July and has issued an urgent appeal for support from individuals or businesses within Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs area.
It is also appealing for more volunteers to join its next training programme.
Isabel said: “We’d really love to spread the word in the community to find parents who’d like to help women and babies at a key time in their lives.”
For more information or to make a donation email CPEnquiries@island-house.org or call 0207 5310314.
Drop-in sessions are held on Mondays from 12.30-2pm at Poplar Baths Cafe in East India Dock Road.
Antenatal classes and postnatal classes are held on Mondays (10am and 11.15am) at Chrisp Street Children’s Centre in Market Way and on Wednesdays (9.30am and 10.45am) at Asda Community Room in Eastferry Road.
Keep up to date with all our articles on Facebook