Making my Point

So today I took my children off to Love Coffee in the Four Seasons shopping centre in Mansfield for coffee. Well, they didn’t have coffee, but I did. Bean had the biggest cake in the universe and some juice. Plum had milk and a taste of the biggest cake in the universe. But you get the idea.

The reason for visiting was not because it’s a great cafe (it’s not), or especially comfortable (it’s not), but because last week the staff there told a mother that if she ever were to return and breastfeed her child, she and the baby must be fully covered up. This mother had not been showing the world her assets so to speak, but the staff were acting following a complaint from another customer, on another day, about another mother. Good grief. Incidentally, in the cafe they have a sign saying that they will not warm bottles or food for babies. And they don’t want you to breastfeed. I don’t often come across cafes that relish screaming babies, but this must be one of them.

Anyway, the woman who was spoken to quite rightly contacted the local paper who printed the story. The shopping centre were quoted in the story as saying that the cafe was not implementing centre policy; in fact the centre said they encouraged mothers to breastfeed within the centre. The cafe was not available for comment.

Yesterday, at breastfeeding group, we hastily arranged to meet at the cafe this afternoon. It was splashed on Facebook and Twitter and I emailed local peer supporters. There was lots of support, although with the short notice, many people were not able to attend, but a few people hoped to join us. Unfortunately, by this afternoon, everyone else had dropped out, but I decided to go anyway, just in case anyone did turn up, and also because I think it was important, and to make a point these things need to happen soon after the event.

I didn’t go to cause trouble, or a fuss, or to complain. I went to have a drink and cake with my children and if Plum required milk while we were there, then I would feed her, just like I do anywhere else we go. I took with me a copy of the relevant pages of the guidance for businesses for the Equality Act 2010 – the bit that says you cannot discriminate against a mother who is breastfeeding her child whatever the age of the child). This part of the guidance explains what the Act means to a business such as a cafe, what is and is not allowed and is in friendly terms. I took it with me so that if I was approached about feeding my child, I could point out my legal rights and give them the guidance to keep, to help them in the future.

Well, no-one said a thing to me, quite predictably. I got a couple of looks from the staff – we were there about 45 minutes and Plum had a couple of quick feeds (mainly to wash down the cake she had I think) and I saw two members of staff giving me sideways glances and muttering to each other. It may or may not have been about me, but either way, they did not approach me, ask me to leave or do anything else that would put them foul of the Equality Act 2010.

I suspect the piece in the paper will have made them think twice about their actions last week, perhaps making a repeat of them less likely (hopefully). Still, I think I’ll pop in from time to time to make sure that’s the case 😉

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