Hospital coffee shop volunteers make generous donation in aid of premature babies

A group of volunteers who run a small coffee shop in the University Hospital of North Tees have made a generous contribution to the hospital’s special care baby unit.

The volunteers in the League of Friends coffee shop took it upon themselves to purchase some new breast pumps for the unit to aid in the growth and recovery of newborns. And their timing simply could not be better as this week marks World Breastfeeding Week.

The special care baby unit looks after babies born prematurely – where new parents may not have all the essentials they need yet. Staff loan out the breast pumps to eliminate this added stress and to give parents a little more time to buy one for themselves.

It also means that baby can be fed with breastmilk on the ward when mum and dad need to step out.

When sisters Julie Teasdale and Debbie Casling spotted an appeal from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust asking parents to return their loaned pumps, they took it upon themselves to help out.

The pair both volunteer their free time to the League of Friends coffee shop, based in the hospital, in their respective roles as treasurer and secretary. They are part of a dedicated team of volunteers who have run the coffee shop for decades – serving refreshments and snacks from the west wing of the hospital.

Julie said: “All proceeds from the coffee bar are donated to the Trust. When we saw an appeal on the Trust Facebook page from our special care baby unit, we were delighted to be able to help.

“Our shop is back open after Covid. If staff are looking for a little extra help to provide some small comforts for patients or to buy new equipment, we encourage them to come speak to us – we’ll support where we can.”

Breast pump machineThough the special care baby unit is open to parents 24 hours a day, there may be times when baby needs to be fed while mum is out of the hospital. By loaning out breast pumps, new mums can express milk at home to ensure a ready supply is available for their little one in hospital.

The unit offers a holistic approach to all babies and their families and the team supports new parents in whichever way they choose to feed.

Lisa Linsel, staff nurse on the special care baby unit, said: “We’re so grateful to our friends in the League of Friends coffee shop who have thought of our unit and our patients.

“These pumps are invaluable and will be used to support new parents with expressing breastmilk to feed their precious early arrivals.”

The League of Friends coffee bar is open in the west wing of the University Hospital of North Tees, Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm. All proceeds are donated to North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

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