Navigating the differences between volunteer and paid roles in the Babywearing Community
Sling meets provide a great introduction to the world of babywearing which would suit lots of people looking to find out more. They are a free service, run by dedicated volunteers who give generously back to the community by sharing the babywearing love.
Sling and carrier consultants are another option. They are a paid service which just like any other business has overheads and operating costs to cover. That’s not to say that a sling meet doesn’t have those things but they generally use fundraising, donations, volunteer hours and sometimes membership fees to cover their costs of operation.
Before I look at the differences between the two though, I would like to first give an outline of some of the similarities and how these people and groups both act as a great resource of all kinds of information babywearing related.
Both will be able to provide you information about safety and positioning in a carrier. Both could be able to help you troubleshoot or work with you to find optimum comfort using your carrier. Both would be able to provide you some guidance about the pro’s and con’s of various styles and brands. And among both groups you will also find a lot of variety in the approach used and the specific service provided.
As a collective from both respective groups sat down and discussed the differences between the services offered, we came to the conclusion that the main differences boil down to just two; time and price.
Time at a sling meet is a very precious commodity. The time frame limitations is one of the main restrictions to the level and kind of support that is offered in this setting. These generous volunteers often have large groups of people wanting assistance and support. The time available to cover something in particular depth or in the case of a special circumstance is limited and therefore the information must be too.
Due to the paid nature of consultancy, often things could have more opportunity to be taken at an individual’s preferred pace or in their preferred manner. With more time and a tailored and specialized service, there is a depth of assistance and support that consultants could offer that can be outside of that possible in the time available in a sling meet setting.
Another aspect to the consideration of time is the time and place of the service offered. Sling meets are usually at a fixed time and place and commonly will have “holiday breaks” like other support groups do. In the situations where someone is maybe not able to make the time and date of the sling meet or would prefer to choose those factors, a consultant would be a better fit.
The aspect of price is obviously a big difference between the two. Sling meets run by volunteers are a free service in the community. Sling and Carrier Consultants all chose a different approach and focus for their business and services offered and many will have a different “specialty” in an area or approach that they are particularly passionate or experienced in, but all will provide this service at a charge. Training costs, ongoing upskilling, teaching resources and our time, both with you and in preparation of meeting, are all aspects of this charge.
As we discussed this relationship and dynamic, it was a Slingbabies leader, Natalie, who made an incredibly valuable comparison in my opinion. The La Leche League provide a breastfeeding support service run by dedicated volunteers around the world. Lactation Consultants also provide a support service for breastfeeding mothers.*
Together they help to boost the rates of breastfeeding in New Zealand by offering support, guidance and assistance in the area of breastfeeding. But the manner, approach and service offered by each is incredibly different but complimentary and more powerful combined.
Just like that of the babywearing world.
Josh and I at a West Auckland Slingbabies meet on 13th September, 2013.
To find an up to date list of Sling Meets and Consultants around the country here – http://babywearingeducators.co.nz/babywearingeducators/
Another list can be found here – http://nzbwingmarketplace.weebly.com/nz-babywearing-groups-and-consultants.html
As you can see, I was still screwing up my face at understanding wraps at the Slingababy Consultant Training in Christchurch just under three years later! While I have improved and learnt a whole lot, the learning never stops!
(Thanks to Sandy, Kelsey, Natalie, Sherylee and Amy for help with this article x)
*I have simplified the comparison to LLL and also the various tiers and levels of support and services within both the volunteer and paid sectors of the support available here. Within both LLL and sling meets there are various kinds and levels of support, group leaders and peer to peer educators are another differing level of support and guidance again. With the intention of being all inclusive and the limitations of my own lack of knowledge and experience within both sling meets and LLL, I am not able to do justice to the various roles or kinds of support. If you have any insight or feedback, I would love to hear from you – firstname.lastname@example.org