Breastfeeding mothers inCountyDurhamwill receive a warm welcome from a local housing association after it pledged its support for a new Breastfeeding Friendly Scheme.

 Cestria Community Housing, inChester-le-Street, opted to join the scheme to ensure it could offer a welcoming atmosphere to breastfeeding mums at its offices and during events and conferences.

 Association staff have undergone awareness training from Durham County Council’s Healthy Lifestyles Team, which runs the scheme, with Cestria’s Chief Executive Paul Fiddaman demonstrating the organisation’s support by signing the official Breastfeeding Friendly Pledge.

 Joining the scheme was one of a number of initiatives carried out as part of Cestria’s recent Equality and Diversity Month, which aimed to raise awareness of different equality issues and ensure the Association’s services are accessible to everyone.

 Cestria Housing Officer Helen Roxborough, who organised the training, said: “As part of E&D month we felt we could benefit from some help and guidance with promoting ourselves as a Breastfeeding Friendly organisation.

 “We have a wide range of tenants, residents, customers and stakeholders who may have babies or small children and we are keen to ensure that any contact they may have with Cestria is positive and accommodating.

 “We often hold events and conferences and up until now have not really provided any facilities for anyone who would like to attend but may be breastfeeding. We also have a main office and a shop inChester-le-Streetwhere we may need to provide facilities for a woman to feed her baby.

 “The Council’s Breastfeeding Friendly Scheme is a great idea and we were really keen to pledge our support by signing up.”

 Cestria is one of the first businesses to sign up to the Breastfeeding Friendly Scheme, and the largest organisation so far to join.

 Durham County Council’s Jane Buckton, part of the Healthy Lifestyles team that runs the scheme, said: “Being breastfeeding friendly is good for business, it can improve your customer service, attract new customers and improve existing customer loyalty.

 “By signing up to the scheme businesses can provide mums with a welcoming and supportive atmosphere in which to breastfeed.

 “We are really pleased to have Cestria on board and hope that many other organisations follow in their footsteps by signing up to the pledge.”

 Other initiatives taking part during Cestria’s E&D Month included staff learning British Sign Language, organising a cross-cultural music night and one member of staff spending the day in a wheelchair to highlight issues around access and disability.

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