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Louise and Aston Villa helping NHS care for local mothers

13 Aug 2020
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Deputy Director of Midwifery Louise Wilde on how using Villa Park as a maternity care centre has helped during COVID-19 pandemic

An Aston Villa fan since the age of eight, Louise Wilde is a season-ticket holder in the Holte End and has been a regular at Villa Park for 40 years.

But Louise never imagined she would be going there regularly for her job as the deputy director of midwifery for Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS.

But after the COVID-19 pandemic struck, she knew exactly where to turn for facilities to help local mothers of newborn babies.

"When the pandemic started we quickly realised that a lot of our GP surgeries were closing down, and we weren't able to get access for our ladies to come and attend clinic," says Louise.

"We also had to reduce the amount of people who were coming to the hospital. We had to think outside the box quite quickly.

"I thought of Aston Villa because they are my club and do a lot for the community. I knew that they would help.

"It's a real family affair and lovely to come here to work. It's a bit like coming home. A big part of my life is Aston Villa"

Louise Wilde, Deputy Director of Midwifery Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS

"They came back within about an hour of me sending an email. Within two days we were up and running.

"We managed to pinch some couches out of the medical room at Villa and then everything else the midwives brought along with them.

"It's amazing. I always come with my Dad and now my two children too.

"It's a real family affair and lovely to come here to work. It's a bit like coming home. A big part of my life is Aston Villa." 

The clinics have proved popular, with between 25 and 30 women attending postnatal and antenatal appointments daily since the facility opened at Villa Park on 27 April.

Health visitors also hold appointments for new parents, and newborn hearing screening tests are available.

And creating such a safe, welcoming environment has been at the forefront of the project.

"The areas around Villa Park face some of the biggest social challenges in the country," says Guy Rippon, head of the Aston Villa Foundation.

"There's a lot of inequality around health and employment so we want Villa Park to feel like it's something accessible for the local community.

"The NHS and Aston Villa have come together, using the resources here and tackling a need to create something fantastic that is going to benefit people for a lifetime." 

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