To some it may just look like any other mother and baby group.
But for a select few mums, dads and siblings across Northumberland, Amble’s newest baby and toddler group is proving to be a lifeline.
Multiple Magic has been set up at the town’s Brambles Childcare Centre, on Coquet Industrial Estate, specifically for parents of twins, triplets and other multiples.
Funded by Children’s Centre’s North, the group is the only one of its kind in the area.
It gives families a chance to meet and discuss the challenges and joys of life as a multiple-birth family and also provides the opportunity for them to participate in activities not always easy to do at home with more than one child – for example, messy play and arts and crafts.
The group was set up because of demand from parents, and one mum in particular – Laura Lee, from Amble, whose triplets, Eva, Emilia and Emma Griffiths use Brambles anyway.
Ailsa Dellbridge, co-ordinator of the group, said: “Laura uses the nursery anyway and she was the one who mentioned that there was no support for multiple-birth families so we decided to look into it.”
Laura added: “When I found out I was pregnant with triplets, I contacted the Twins and Multiple Births Association (Tamba) to find out if there was any local groups I could go to.
“The nearest ones were in Prudhoe and Newcastle, but they were too far away and there was nothing else.
“So I decided to do something to help me and other families. I mentioned it to the health visitor and we went from there.
“We got funding from Children’s Centres North to run the group and it has taken us two years to get here but we’ve done it.
“I also met with Sir Alan Beith and mentioned it to him and everyone was very supportive of it.
“There seems to be a rise in the number of multiple births in the area and while my girls are the only triplets under five that we know of, there are a lot of twins.
“The group helps everyone, it gives the children a chance to play in an enclosed area and for us as parents, we get to meet others that are the same, we know what the others are going through.
“There’s the social aspect as well, we can meet other parents and get hints and tips and give out advice.”
Last week saw the group’s second meet-up, with a Hallowe’en theme for the youngsters.
Laura’s daughters were the only triplets, but there were also five sets of twins from across the county.
Vicki Oman, from Hadston, took her 15-month-old twins, Grace and Olivia, along to the group. The girls were born 26 weeks premature and spent months in hospital after they were born. Grace still has additional needs, including a tracheostomy to help with her breathing.
For Vicki, the group provides much-needed support.
“It’s excellent to have this group to come to,” she said.
“It’s so good to be able to socialise with people that know how you feel. They know why you get stressed out, they are living it just like you are. It’s also great to talk to other mums in similar situations.
“And as the girls were born prematurely, I can give help to other people about what we have been through, it’s just great.
“The other thing to mention is that with Grace’s additional needs, at some places I can get funny looks, but that doesn’t happen here, we are just treated as the same.”
Cheryl and Allan Smith, from Longframlington, were with their identical twin boys, Isaac and Ethan, who are nine months old.
Cheryl said: “It’s good to know that there are other people in the same boat as you.
“It’s so different to just having one baby, and you can get advice and help on things that other people are also going through.
“You don’t feel out of place here. When you go to groups where there are mostly parents with one baby, you feel like you are constantly running around after them. But here people just understand.”
Siobhan Sturrock’s twin boys, Dylan and Cameron, who are 11 months old, are the third set of twins to be born in Longhoughton this year.
“There is a massive baby boom in Longhoughton at the moment,” she said.
“It’s fantastic to have this support. There is nothing like it anywhere else nearby for us. It’s great to meet other parents and see how they do things.”
Julie Runciman’s twins, Harriet and Lucas, were the oldest of the group at 27 months. Having just moved to Ashington from Amble, she finds Multiple Magic a great support network.
“They don’t get an awful lot of interaction as we don’t go to any other groups,” Julie said.
“So it is good for them to meet other children and interact and communicate with them. They play together all the time, but not as much with other children.”
And for Amble mum Nicola Knowles, it is the only group she takes seven-month-old Amelia and Aiden to as well.
“It’s just nice to be with other parents who feel the same as you.
“I get lots of good advice and it’s nice to be with others who understand you. I came along to the first group and I will keep coming along.”
Multiple Magic will take place on the last Friday of every month at Brambles Childcare Centre from 10am. Funding for the group means that it is free for all parents/carers and their multiple-birth children up to the age of three. For more information, contact Brambles on 01665 710453.