Sarah Russell, Siobhan Freegard and Cathy Court, the three founders of the parental support website Netmums, received OBEs for services to families in the UK New Year Honours list. Congratulations to each of them, as they have built an excellent community.
Netmums was set up in 2000. It now has over 1.6 million members and alongside the self-help conversations on the forums, trained Parent Supporters or Health Visitors help about 3500 individual mums each month, calling on experts from Relate, Women’s Aid, Contact a Family, Family Rights Group and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Netmums satisfies all the criteria for being classified as a ‘self-educating community’, which Leigh-Anne Perryman and I wrote about in our Public-Facing Open Scholar paper. Netmums also compares favorably to the Facebook groups that I highlighted in May 2013 for being particularly educative. Like the best Facebook groups, Netmums is open for the public to read the forum conversations, and as no Facebook account is needed to view them, Netmums can reach an even wider audience.
I wrote in May 2013 that it is helpful to belong to a community to support your learning, so if you are interested in parenting but don’t yet belong to an online community, Netmums is a very good place to begin.