A SOCIAL meet up has been created to get parents struggling with loneliness re-integrated into the community and support from like-minded people.

Taking place at Momo's Community Cafe on Westfield Street, the meet up is a way for parents, grandparents and carers to get together in an informal setting and lend a supportive ear or advice to one another over a cup of coffee.

Claire Rigby, owner of Momo's and a mum-of-one, said she knows exactly the struggle parents face trying to maintain a work and social life around managing small children.

This struggle, Claire feels, has only been accentuated by the pandemic with restricted social events and children's playgroups, nursery or schooling over the last 18 months.

Claire, 41, said: "I've been made aware that there are a lot of Mum groups on social media and the issue that keeps coming up is loneliness, especially with people having children in lockdown.

"It can be really, really lonely for parents, and during the pandemic kids have not been introduced to their peers, or parents with other parents."

Aware of the detrimental impact loneliness can have on people's mental health, Claire said that she felt it was necessary to create the group to "create a community of parents [...] combat loneliness and help parents meet people in the same situation as them."

Ran informally by mums who understand the difficulties of parenting, the group is designed as a support network that can offer support and guidance for any problems parents may be facing, in a setting where they can relax and unwind.

Claire added: "I think lockdown has really taught us the value of friendship and connection, and people want this now more than ever."

"If you're feeling the loneliness strain of the post pandemic and the long winter approaching, come down and offload on me. I am a mental health first aider and also have a huge shoulder to take some of your worries away."

Promoting the group on social media, the post has been inundated with comments of support and praise from parents who have been struggling with loneliness.

Starting on Thursday, October 14, the meet-ups are free to attend and will take place each week from 1-2pm. Parents are welcome to bring their children for the group sessions at the cafe, which will be cut off to the public for privacy.

Asking for donations of craft and colouring toys, Claire emphasised: "You do not need to be alone, you do not need to be lonely anymore. We got your back. Come to cry, come to laugh, come to make friends, come to socialise with your kids who have suffered the most in the last 18 months."