Maida Vale Parents, an online community.February 2020
Article by Alice Sinclair.
Maida Vale Parents is an (online) group for Parents and Carers in the W9 area. ..’with bumps, babies, toddlers, tweens, teens and even grandchildren’.
Counting 4.4k members, the group was originally formed in 2007 by six new mums far from their families who used to gather in the rose garden of Paddington Recreation Ground.
I met up with one of the group’s founders Eugenia Mandrali, and the current head of admin Anne-Sophie Erlandsen Olesen. We had coffee at Toast on Formosa street and they kindly lead me through the journey of MVPs.
How did the Idea came about?
Eugenia had migrated far from her hometown in Greece, away from the impending finical crisis, her family and friends, and was feeling the pressure of new parenthood.
One day, she saw a sign in the GP surgery advertising a weekly group of migrant mothers. She decided to join and thus met the ladies who were to be the founding tribe members of Maida Vale Mums…
The Mums comforted and supported each other, shared advice and soothed the wicked parental guilt we seem to all be afflicted with in one way or another. Soon, they found that that regular meeting was invaluable to their lives.
“It was very organic at the time, a sort of self help project” says Eugenia.
Maida Vale Mums Website
In 2007, the group decided to be more structured and branch out. With the help of Meghan, an American mum and owner of a successful business in the U.S. selling CDs, they created a webpage “www.maidavalemums.com”. The page was mainly used to organise parties, meet ups and share ideas of what to do in the local area.
From Maida Vale Mums to Maida Vale Parents
In 2013, for various reasons, the group had to close down abruptly and faced with 2000+ members’ impending ‘uprooting’. This is where Anne-Sophie, a forward thinking mum, stepped in and re-launched the group as Maida Vale Parents.
What makes Maida Vale Parents so special?
The famous child focused psychoanalyst Donald Winnecott spent much of his working life just down the road from us at St Mary’s hospital. He famously believed that the ‘Mother’ in the archetypal sense had to be ‘good enough’, providing the environment was contained and safe and transition was gently facilitated.
This is exactly why MVP’s as a group is so successful. It is a welcoming environment for all Parents. What sets it apart from other groups is the safe container created by the admins. Much like kids need a safe container and boundaries to thrive, as do online groups. The key to its success lies behind closed doors with the admin.
It is a tightly run ship with only a handful of moderators who make sure that the group rules are always respectfully enforced: for parents but not just about parenting; let’s be kind and civil; no ads whatsoever; no hate speech, bullying or discrimination; no Fake News; no Justice by Social Media; and What Happens on MVP Stays in MVP.
This has made the group a very supportive, non-judgmental and extremely dynamic community. The saying goes that ‘Even if you leave Maida Vale, you never leave Maida Vale Parents 2 Parents’, which is why members hail as far as Australia, US and Asia by now. And out of 4400+ members, more than 3800 are Active Members, meaning they have Viewed, Commented, Posted or Reacted in the last month alone.
Since Anne-Sophie took over, MVP2P has doubled in size. Its members, like an ever changing team of volunteers, have also organised many IRL (In Real Life) events such as Family Mini-Festivals in Pad Rec, Xmas Drinks, Mid-Week Drinks and even their first MV Dads’ Drinks.
But its core offering is still online support and advice to the many very diverse members, who represent quite accurately an area of London where high wealth and poverty exist side by side, but where all are local parents. And while there are no MVP Weddings (that we know of) there are certainly a plethora of true MVP Friendships.