Lockdown diaries

In which Vicki Sigston shares her experiences of trying to maintain family order in this strange new world..


As I write this my family are on Day 51 of lockdown.
Day 51 of not being able to spend time, in person, with friends and family.
Day 51 of work looking very different as I learn to use Zoom, WhatsApp groups and juggle family life with working from home.
Day 51 of clubs, sports and hobbies usually done away from home being cancelled.

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Food bank, glorious food bank

In which Vicki Sigston looks at the increased service that food banks in Medway are needing to provide..

Single Food parcel, Single, Food, Food Parcel Contents

Hello and Happy New Year.

If you can cast your minds back all the way to the last decade you may have a faint recollection of quite a lot happening in the world of UK politics as we approached Christmas. All culminating in a general election where the Conservatives pushed aside all other parties to win a comfortable majority in the Commons.

As you may have guessed from previous posts I have written for this esteemed website the Conservatives, particularly our local councillors, are not my favourite people. I am often appalled by their seeming lack of care for anyone but the most well off in society and struggle to understand where their popularity comes from in my hometowns of Medway, where we have ever increasing levels of poverty.

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Tell me a birth story

In which Vicki Sigston looks at the consequences of funding cuts on one area of the NHS..

As an Antenatal Practitioner and Breastfeeding Counsellor, I hear a lot of birth stories – home births, births in midwife or consultant led units. Vaginal and caesarean births. Inductions. Forceps. Babies born unexpectedly in cars and bathrooms. You name it, I’ve heard it.

I feel honoured to do this job and to be a tiny part of people’s journeys to parenthood but one thing I feel more and more uneasy about is the way our NHS is letting these parents down. Alongside the positive and heart warming birth stories I am hearing more and more worrying experiences.

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Hard Conversations

In which Vicki Sigston looks at the support that exists for new parents during one of the most difficult times..

As an antenatal practitioner I meet hundreds of families every year who are waiting to meet their babies. Some will come to me as parents who have been affected by the previous loss of a pregnancy or who have experienced stillbirth and while often they might prefer to keep this information to themselves, they might also be keen to talk through their past experiences as they prepare to meet their new baby, and of course this is important.

Stillbirth and neonatal death will always be a hard subject for people to talk about, but June is SANDS awareness month here in the UK and I felt it was a great opportunity to open up the dialogue a little.

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It takes a village

In which Vicki Sigston looks at how much support exists for families in Medway in those vital early years..

Did you know that May 15th was the International Day of Families? It was first celebrated in 1994 by the United Nations who wanted the opportunity to reflect and celebrate the importance of families, communities and societies around the world.

As an antenatal practitioner I have been lucky enough to be a tiny part of the journey into parenthood for hundreds of families. It is a real privilege to watch them traverse the magical, and often tricky path that comes when extending a family unit.

As a society though, I think we are letting families down.

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Autism in Medway – Awareness and Acceptance

In which Vicki Sigston looks at the state of autism support in Medway..

I was asked by the Political Medway team to write a piece in honour of Autism Awareness Month which runs throughout April.

I must admit that at first I was a bit stuck with how to approach this. I have some knowledge of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) but I felt a bit disingenuous as I started to write my piece. The main reason for this is that I have no personal experience of accessing autism services and support. The very first post I wrote for the Political Medway was about period poverty, and quite right that the two male owners of the page ask a woman to write about that – so I didn’t feel I should write about this.

But while talking to friends who do have personal experience someone suggested that what might be great would be to ask some questions of those families in “the system”. Those families where there are formal diagnoses of ASD and who have used, or try to use the support in the local area.

So, thanks to the genius survey creating tool that is Survey Monkey, I put together a very short questionnaire and put out a plea on social media for people in Medway who have personal knowledge of local support to respond.

I was amazed, in a couple of days I had almost 50 responses, plus many direct messages too. Those who responded did so very openly and passionately. The questions had obviously stirred up some feelings and as I read through the responses I started to understand why. 

Medway does not get ASD support right. Hardly ever it seems.

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School’s Out

In which Vicki Sigston looks at why so many families in Medway and beyond are turning to home education..

There are many reasons why families, like my own, choose to home educate their children. Some are not a fan of our rigid national curriculum and lack of funding in music and the arts. For others it’s the freedom that home education provides in letting children learn at their own pace, in their own way. The freedom to travel without the threat of fines for missing school. The freedom to spend a whole year on a topic if that is sparking a passion. Sometimes children who are home educated have needs that our schools struggle with and home education can provide a much less stressful environment for them to learn in.

There are lots of choices that lead to the decision to not have your children in mainstream education. But it is just that, a choice, and one that families should be free to make without fear of retribution.

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Stupid Cupid

In which Vicki Sigston looks at the effects tiny acts of kindness can have in Medway and beyond..

It’s February, and that means grey skies full of wind and rain, an impatient wait for Spring and of course Valentine’s day.

As someone who has been in a relationship with the same person for the past 20 years I am perhaps jaded to the whole Valentine’s celebrations. Long ago we gave up trying to book a meal out, fed up of sitting squashed amongst other couples in busy restaurants. We are easily annoyed by the hike in prices of flowers, chocolates and bottles of fizz and thoroughly downtrodden by the quest for a not too cheesy, not too funny Valentine’s card.

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A C Word

In which Vicki Sigston looks at cervical health, and finds some troubling details about screening in Medway..

So, it’s 2019. A whole new year to grab by the horns and make some positive changes in this mad world that we find ourselves in.

I’d love to say that our local government and councillors have been doing just that but sadly anyone with even half a toenail in politics is still embroiled in the B word, and frankly I don’t have the energy to talk about that.

So instead, something that I hadn’t heard of until recently.. January is “Cervical Health Awareness Month”.

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Bloody Expensive

We at The Political Medway need time to drink these coffees that some of you wonderful people have bought us, and sometimes there’s a topic that we think doesn’t need another man to talk about it. Either way welcome to a series of Wednesday Guest Posts..

Back in September Medway Council’s public health team commissioned a survey of local teenagers, in which it was highlighted that as many as 1 in 5 young people know of a peer who had taken time off school due to not enough access to sanitary products.

Think about that for a moment. Young women, not going to school because they don’t have adequate sanitary protection.

Young women in Medway, missing out on school, and presumably family and social events too, because they don’t have the money or support to purchase sanitary towels, tampons or pads.

It’s a figure that astounds, embarrasses and saddens me.

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