A PIONEERING charity is inspiring young mums to shine and sparkle.

Motherwell Cheshire encourages experienced mums to share their skills and knowledge with vulnerable mums who feel lonely and isolated.

The mentoring programme Bright Stars matches women over 50 to younger mums who may have mental health issues or are experiencing family breakdowns.

More than 450 mums have been helped since the project was launched earlier this year and the search is now on to find more older mums in Winsford and Northwich willing to give up their time.

Winsford mum-of-three Kate Blakemore came up with the idea after experiencing her own difficulties during pregnancy and childbirth.

Kate, who has an 11-year-old daughter and sons aged nine and five, said: "My second child was quite ill and there was a big gap of other people not being able to understand what I was going through.

"Most mums go through the same emotions but no one dares discuss it.

"We help lots of women on their motherhood journey. Many haven't got their own mothers around to support them.

"It's a real win-win because some of the older women are experiencing things like empty nest syndrome and it helps them too.

"The mentoring is designed to be long term over a couple of years so that trust is built up and a deep relationship forms. This can be life changing for both women."

Mentors receive coaching, training and safeguarding guidance which enables them to know how to handle some of the challenges they may face.

Debbie Sharred, 57, whose daughters aged 30 and 27 have flown the nest leaving her alone at home with her 20-year-old son, loves being a mentor.

The teacher and childminder said: "The hustle and bustle of being in a family can be chaotic but suddenly it was just myself and my son. He was independent of me and I just had lots of free time."

Feeling isolated, she said, is one of the main difficulties facing young mums.

"I don't think anything can really prepare you for being a mum," she said. "Babies don't come with a manual.

"Suddenly you become very isolated. It takes a lot of effort and confidence to get a baby ready in the morning and yourself. The impact of lack of sleep makes everything 10 times worse.

"If you've been a working woman, you find yourself in a totally alienating world."

Mentors never judge young mums or tell them what to do. Instead they empower them to develop their own confidence and self-esteem.

Debbie said: "We help them to plan and think about their future rather than be routed in the past or now.

"We help to improve their social network, education skills and day to day wellbeing.

"Sometimes when you're in new mum mode you don't think about yourself at all. All your energy centres on your baby.

"It is important to look after yourself. The knock on effect to the rest of the family is massive. Your mood changes and you are a nicer person to be around."

Helping younger mums to blossom, she said, is very rewarding and reaps great benefits for mentors.

"I suffer terrible anxiety and have massive insecurities myself," added Debbie. "Doing this helps me a lot. It is really fulfilling and has given me a new purpose in life.

"I consider myself very fortunate. I had great support from my family when my children were young.

"If I'd been on my own I'm certain I would have really struggled."

Any mature mums interested in becoming mentors can email hr@motherwellcheshirecio.com.

The mentoring programme is funded by Brightlife, a National Lottery funded partnership led by Age UK Cheshire, which supports projects designed to combat loneliness and isolation in the over 50s.