On the last day of February, our 2 newest staff members joined Best Beginnings – Julie Watson and Shel Banks. They’ll be working for Best Beginnings for 4 months on a part time basis, courtesy of funding from the Vodafone Foundation’s World of Difference programme, whose strapline is “Donate yourself – and get paid for your time!”

Julie (left) and Shel with Gok Wan - Vodafone World of Difference ambassador


Julie Watson worked at the University of York, Mother & Infant Research Unit and the Y&H HIEC, and is one of the co-developers of the Best Beginnings ‘Getting it Right from the Start’ Small Wonders Neonatal Workshop); and Shel Banks is an IBCLC and Infant Feeding Information Specialist from Lancashire who last year co-developed and co-delivered the Small Wonders Neonatal Parent Champion Programme at Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

Both women went to Vodafone House in Newbury with other winners of this year’s funding for an induction day for the programme. This included networking opportunities, an address from the Director of The Vodafone Foundation – Andrew Dunnett, stories from previous years’ winners about their achievements and inspiring speeches from leaders of charities and other voluntary sector organisations that included Simon Weston OBE, the Falklands war veteran, author and charity supporter, as well as the inimitable Gok Wan who says “The Vodafone World of Difference programme is fantastic at bringing man power to struggling charities. I love seeing the difference just a few months can make, and the fact that so many winners continue a relationship with their charity after their placement ends, is inspiring.”

  Shel (left) and Julie with Andrew Dunnett - Director of the Vodafone Foundation

Although Julie and Shel have both worked with Best Beginnings before, they both feel that this funding gives them a great opportunity to give more time to the important work of assisting Best Beginnings in driving forward change and reducing the health inequalities for children in the UK, particularly in the neonatal arena.  

Shel says: “I’m working on a very exciting collaboration to move forward the Neonatal Parent Champion programme this year, meaning we further develop the model so that it can be rolled out at other units across the country in the future to provide even better support for the families of babies in the UK’s neonatal units. I’m also looking forward to playing a key role in embedding the use of the new Bump Buddy and Baby Buddy phone apps which are being released very soon, in localities across the UK”

Julie will be working on supporting and developing the volunteer network of Small Wonders Champions in the UK and continuing to roll-out Best Beginnings’ ‘Getting it Right from the Start’ Small Wonders Neonatal Workshop, as well as contributing to the further development of the Small Wonders Change Programme overall.

If you think either of our very experienced and knowledgeable new ‘interns’ can help you in any way, please get in touch with them via [email protected] or [email protected]