Members of the WBTi UK Steering/Working Group
Helen is joint Coordinator of the UK Working Group of the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi). In 2017 she and Clare Meynell were awarded the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Breastfeeding by Lactation Consultants of Great Britain for leading the UK’s first WBTi assessment of infant feeding policy and programmes.
Helen is a trustee of Lactation Consultants of Great Britain (LCGB) and has chaired their Communications and Social Media teams.
She represents La Leche League GB on the Baby Feeding Law Group, which works to implement the WHO International Codeinto UK and European law, and has served on La Leche League International’s Special Committee on the International Code, set up to review policies and produce resources on the Code.
Her background in anthropology and human evolution has given her a particular interest in how breastfeeding and the way we mother our babies are influenced by both human biology and culture. Her current research focus is the planning for the care and feeding of infants and young children during emergencies.
She is an international speaker and educator and has a private practice in London as an IBCLC, as well as leading a local La Leche League mother support group.
Helen is a founding member of National Maternity Voices, and is actively involved with her local maternity services and local Maternity Voices Partnership to improve mothers’ experiences.
RM (rtd) IBCLC
Clare trained as an integrated children and general nurse at Westminster Children’s Hospital and in Chichester. She is a mother and grandmother and has been an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant supporting new mothers for more than 20 years.
During a long career in midwifery and then as Infant Feeding Specialist Clare instigated and facilitated the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation in the local hospital Trust, maintaining the highest level of accreditation for 10 years. She also led many La Leche League peer support training sessions in the local community and set up an Outpatient Tongue Tie clinic, having trained a succession of practitioners.
Clare has held previous roles, including membership secretary and Co-ordinator for LCGB (Lactation Consultants of Great Britain). She attended the first World Breastfeeding Conference in New Delhi in 2012 and the first European training for World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) in Geneva May 2015.
Currently, with Helen Gray, she jointly coordinates the UK WBTI working group and co-presented the first report for the UK in Parliament in November 2016.
Lately her focus has been on understanding why the exact same barriers facing new mothers on their breastfeeding journey still occur today. Working with her colleagues she hopes to create “Actions for Change” through the WBTi report recommendations so the next generation of mothers are enabled to achieve their personal breastfeeding goals and that society better understands the health giving properties of human milk as the physiologically normal food for babies.
PhD, MSc, RHV (rtd), QN
Alison trained as a nurse and as a health visitor and worked in an outer London borough. She trained and worked as a NCT breastfeeding counsellor for 30 years, and a tutor for 10 years, presenting at national conferences and writing in professional journals. She has appeared in television programmes and videos on breastfeeding. She completed her MSc in medical anthropology in 1994, studying Gujarati mothers’ attitudes to breastfeeding, and then her PhD in social anthropology, receiving a Florence Nightingale Travel Scholarship to do field work in India.
Alison has published in anthropological, nursing and health visiting journals and contributed to book chapters. She received the Julie Crawford Award for services to breastfeeding in 2009. In recent years, she has worked as a specialist health visitor and infant feeding lead in two NHS trusts, taking them both to be Baby Friendly accredited by Unicef. She was recognised as a Queen’s Nurse in 2014 and subsequently received the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s Award for Outstanding Service. After retiring from the NHS, she now works pro bono, as a professional advisor for Best Beginnings and the Institute of Health Visiting, volunteers in breastfeeding support groups and trains peer supporters. She is an an Honorary Lecturer at Brunel University, London.
She was a committee member for the NICE guideline on Faltering Growth 2017 and in 2018 became a committee member of the Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly project (BBF).
B.A.(Cantab), B.Ed, Diploma in Counselling
Patricia obtained a degree in Science (Chemistry) and also a B.Ed, which led to teaching Science for 8 years before bringing up three children. She trained as a breastfeeding counsellor with NCT when her children were small, and still works in that role. She was also a tutor training breastfeeding counsellors for 15 years. Obtaining a Diploma in Counselling (1998) enables her also to work as a psychological counsellor. Alongside these, she held a voluntary management role in NCT for over a decade in which the focus was on improving the guidance and structures of the support network for breastfeeding counsellors, such as introducing a formal supervision system.
She was heavily involved in a survey by NCT, published by MIDIRS in 2016, of UK tongue-tie services, which demonstrated that service provision is a postcode lottery.
For the WBTi UK report Patricia led on Indicator 5, which is primarily focussed on health professional training. She has subsequently written an e-book for trainee and qualified doctors about breastfeeding.
Her passion is working to enable people to meet their goals, which includes working with women to meet their infant feeding goals, Since the vast majority of mothers she works with want to breastfeed this also means enabling babies to receive the physiological norm – breastfeeding. Achieving this is a combination of working directly with families as a counsellor, providing and signposting to reliable information as an educator and working to improve UK support for breastfeeding as a WBTi Working Group member.