A Shaftesbury childminder’s offer of free childcare to help mums attend smear tests will be adopted by our town’s health centre.
Sammi Shah, who runs Bluebells Childminding, knows that putting off her examination could have cost her life. She ignored reminders to go for her smear test until she decided to start a family and went for health checks. Her test results revealed an abnormality that required Sammi to undergo surgery. So she has partnered with childminder Kat Bromley of Mini Muggles Childminding to offer mums an hour of free childcare so they can attend their smear tests.
On Thursday, the women also hosted a ‘Stay and Play’ fundraiser to coincide with Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. “It was really good,” said Kat. “It was a bit quiet at the beginning when everybody was dropping off the kids at school and preschool. We got half an hour in and then everybody started turning up, which is nice.”
The special draw was the home-cooked and authentic Indian food that Sammi learned to cook when she lived in Mumbai for two years. Sammi spent most of Wednesday night in her kitchen. She says she was relieved that her daughter, Sanya, went to sleep earlier than usual. She was in the kitchen again early on the morning of her event.
Sammi was pleased by the parents’ reaction. “Everybody has loved the food. I’ve tried not to make it too spicy,” she said. The samosas and onion bhajis were familiar and delicious but there were some unfamiliar dishes on the table, too. One of the Indian sweets was the size, colour and shape of flapjacks but had the soft texture of fudge. This ‘kaju katli’ was shiny and silver on one side, decorated in edible foil.
A colourful, yellow dish that resembled kedgeree was also proving popular. “Poha is an Indian breakfast. It’s rice flakes and potatoes and a lot of parents who have come have loved it. “It’s Sammi’s husband’s favourite and she uses her mother-in-law’s recipe. Diplomatically, she says that her husband’s mum’s Poha is better. “I don’t think I can top hers,” smiled Sammi.
Sammi is new to Shaftesbury. Life in our small Dorset town is very different from her previous life in London, Sheffield and Mumbai, but she loves it. And Sammi has realised how quickly news can travel in Shaftesbury.
Jane Dawes read about Sammi’s event on ThisIsAlfred. Jane is managing partner at the Abbey View Medical Centre and was inspired and excited by Sammi’s project. The women started a conversation and now Jane is arranging for Shaftesbury’s Health Centre to host free childminders every three months, to support mums booked in for their cervical smear tests. Jane says the sessions will likely be offered on Saturdays. She’ll contact Alfred with the event details when they are available.
Sammi has been encouraged to continue raising cash for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. She and Kat have raised £55. “We’ve had a lot of donations. My focus was merely an awareness, but it is lovely that we raised a good amount,” she said.
Sammi says she wants to make this a regular fixture. “I’m going to do this annually,” she said. You can book your hour of free childcare if you are attending a smear test by contacting Sammi on Facebook at bluebellschildminding.