Stories, Places, Spaces

The Liverpool Audio Tour

The Audio Tour launch, Central Library, Liverpool November 2022 Image (c) Gail Skelly

When you have a baby, you have so much that you need to learn quickly, especially if you are planning to breastfeed. You want to get out and rediscover your city and make new friends who can support you on this big journey. We hope this tour will bring parents together, help mothers learn about breastfeeding and rediscover their city from the point of view of a parent. It can be really scary to leave the house for the first time with your baby and if you’re breastfeeding, that challenge is multiplied.

At the very beginning of this project, I had a wishlist of what I felt was missing for me as a new mother. I left the hospital clutching a fistful of photocopied sheets. Somewhere in there was a list of breastfeeding drop ins, baby groups, helplines. it was weeks before I looked at them. Weeks of sleepless suffering before I got myself out of the house.

The first group I went to really helped me feel better. the following week I found out the group was to be cut. What I really wanted was a list of places in my city that I could go to and know I would be welcome. If that could have been a list of places where I might bump into other breastfeeding mothers, even better!

Everything needed rethinking: how to get a baby into town/to station/to bus stop (walk/drive?), how to get baby from car to buggy, how to get buggy into shops/trains/buses. I got into town to discover that the places I used to consider my places were now firmly off the plan due to tight doorways, chairs, noise. Even if I found a place to meet another mother, two was the absolute maximum for most places.

I quickly realised that I needed a whole new map of my city: one that outlined the best places to meet, sit, feed without feeling awkward or in the way. better still, I needed places with built-in free activities ; mother groups, childrens activities for friends with toddlers and anywhere, ANYWHERE WITH CAKE.

I hope this tour will be like a treasure hunt. Discover your city and all the places that are breastfeeding friendly in your city. I have been truly moved by the open-handed enthusiastic response from venues. All the venues taking part have programmes for families and lots of them are free!

How to follow the tour

Across Liverpool there are 16 stopping-off points which are marked with a QR code. Each is a breastfeeding and family friendly space, with facilities for parents and babies. Many have a schedule of free events for families.

Where possible we have tried to add detail about the step- free access to the venue, the facilities and times. As the first Audio Tour made for Holding Time, this is something of an experiment. Everything from contacting the venues, to designing the posters and creating the APP has been an experiment, so I hope you’ll forgive any discrepancies.

What we’ve discovered making this tour, is that there is a remarkable amount of good will towards breastfeeding mothers, young families and children. Venues were super keen to welcome in those on the tour and to take part. In these times of cuts, burn out and post-pandemic fatigue, it makes perfect sense to connect together different kinds of places who share similar values and vision. Whether a cathedral, museum or shop – the venues all have open arms for new mothers and their children. This has been heartening.

In difficult and disjointed times, it’s a relief to come together.

Speaking of which, the Babyweek Liverpool launch was bigger and better than ever! babies were serenaded, photographed and and even got to play the harp! For those of you who missed it, here’s a tantalising taster….shot from the dizzying heights of Central Libray’s top floor!

And finally…to celebrate and mark this occasion, we have launched a podcast of the interviews – one to be launched every day for Liverpool and Bradford Babyweek. Please share this with your friends and family who may not be able to come to Liverpool to take part in the actual tour.

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