A BREAST-FEEDING cafe in Northampton that was the subject of a mothers’ protest march recently, will close three weeks early, campaigners have said.
But mothers said they would continue to fight to keep the service from permanent closure.
They are now battling against a deadline of March 9, after learning that repair work to the Friends Meeting House in Wellington Street, which hosts the cafe, will start three weeks before NHS funding runs out.
Kim Watts, a mum and spokeswoman for the campaign group, said: “It is a bit of a blow as it means our services will end even sooner than we expected.
“It is unfortunate timing and we have an even smaller window than we anticipated to change people’s minds.”
Thousands of families have been made aware of the proposed closure of The Northampton Baby Cafe, along with the Mum-to-Mum peer support service, after a peaceful town centre protest of 200 mums and children, as well as a petition featuring 2,000 signatures.
It has been prompted by the declaration by NHS bosses that they wished to withdraw the £16,000 of yearly funding.
Current plans are for NHS Northamptonshire to get a cheaper breast-feeding service in the medium term, although women are concerned about what will happen to new mums wishing to breastfeed in the meantime.
Mrs Watts said: “The NHS and county council have indicated plans to ‘provide a more equitable service’.
“Therefore one of our main focuses is to find out how they plan to bridge the gap from when the current services end and new initiatives are implemented.
“It would be irresponsible for them not to have considered any support services but we are concerned that this might be the case.”
Since 2004, the cafe has hosted more than 1,600 different women and their babies, helping them avoid formula milk if they did not want to use it.
Breastfeeding is credited with a reduction in many medical problems in children, from ear infections to diabetes, saving the NHS money in the long term.
Mrs Watts added: “We obviously hope that the two current services remain in place, however, we are also open to helping the county council and NHS devise an alternative which might even see an improved provision implemented in 2013.”