Saturday, 19 March 2016

An open letter to Jamie Oliver

Dear Mr Oliver,

So happy to hear you are looking for a new cause to campaign on.  You must (justifiably!) be very proud of your work on school lunches, nutrition and now the sugar tax.  I have no doubt that your interest in the health and wellbeing of our country's children is heartfelt and genuine.  

But, please.  If you want to campaign on something - please don't start telling mums what type of milk to feed our infants. 

Choose the fight against child poverty and the punishing cuts to our welfare state.  We'll all miss it when it's gone - even IDS realised that. 

Choose the fight against the forced closures of local children's centres and libraries.  Hundreds of facilities are at risk, or have already shut their doors.  Turned over to properly developers, fitness chains and supermarkets.  These places were a lifeline to me when I was a struggling new mum.  Our communities need community centres.

Choose the campaign for better perinatal mental health services.  Help the Maternal Mental Health Alliance close the postcode lottery of vital specialist services like Mother & Baby Units.  Help us put in place trained mental health midwives and health visitors so we can reach more families and save lives.  

Choose Child and Young adult Mental  Health Services - everyone these days is aware of how shockingly underfunded CAMHS is.  Long waiting times, high thresholds and devastated families.

Choose to join the 1001 Critical Days campaign.  An incredible campaign working in Parliament to ensure the best possible services from conception to Age 2.   If even half of what they call for is put in place then a generation of children's lives will be transformed.

Choose any and all of this, and more. But please.  Don't choose milk.  I'm fairly confident most women out there are planning on feeding their babies milk.  Why should you care whether it comes from a boob or a bottle?  The difference it might make to an infant's life chances is so disputed I can only conclude it is negligible.  Unlike the list above.  Those causes - I know from bitter experience - are life changing.

Sincerely yours,


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