Helen Gray, London, Great Britain

Photo courtesy Mary Jane Bennett, Maui

Helen ponders on the fact that although LLL Leaders receive no financial reward in exchange for giving their time to help mothers breastfeed, they do get paid in a multitude of skills, experience, and job satisfaction.

Well, we don’t get paid, that is for sure.

But in fact, being a volunteer also gives us a freedom to do something we are passionate about, without leaving our children behind (how many jobs allow that?). In addition, we are constantly learning, along with doing incredibly rewarding and fulfilling work. Surveys show that many mothers would like to spend some time at home with their children or work part-time to spend more time with their families. Leadership is a wonderful opportunity for many mothers.

I recently heard it said that LLL leadership is “giving something for nothing. It doesn’t lead anywhere.” I disagree! One of the wonderful things about LLL is that there is so much scope for personal growth within the organization. While it is recommended that new Leaders concentrate on leading their Groups for the first year, to gain experience and confidence, after that the sky is quite literally the limit.

There are so many skills involved in leading an LLL Group, for example speaking in public by leading discussions every month. Before my first meeting, I was up until 2 am to write note cards for every possible tricky situation. Yet now, if a co-Leader cancels at the last minute, I can lead a meeting at the drop of a hat. I can even stand up at a conference or National Health Service (NHS) meeting and speak to an audience of mothers, health professionals, and managers.

In addition, Leaders gain excellent organizational skills, such as handling finances, fundraising, helping mothers become an LLL Leader in the Group, and much more! There are many different roles within LLL, so there is truly something for everyone. Leaders can take on:

  • research, writing, and editing roles with LLL publications
  • roles in the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD)
  • opportunities for research into breastfeeding
  • specialized skills in the Professional Liaison Department (PLD)
  • mentoring and supporting Leaders in an administrative position
  • management, strategy, and finances as a member of the local administrative team.

And then there are all those jobs repeated at at the level of Area Network or Affiliate, and again at a global level! We have representatives to the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, to the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, and to the Baby Feeding Law Group (great for WHO Code followers).

We have Leaders in LLL Great Britain who have served in the LLL European Area Network and the LLLI Leader Accreditation Department and who have even been on the LLLI Board of Directors. Many of our administrators are closely involved in international work.

I love that a young teenage mother, who left school at 16, could not only find support for her passion for mothering, but became confident enough to lead an LLL Group, edited the national magazine for years, issued press releases including being interviewed on national media, joined the local administrative team, and became chairman, representing LLL at an international level. And all while raising a large family with many children.

Talk about experience and career progression! Thank you La Leche League for giving us all these skills so generously.


Helen GrayOriginally from the USA, Helen Gray is a La Leche League Leader in London, UK, where she and her husband Julian live with their three teenaged children. Helen is an IBCLC and joint coordinator of the UK working group of the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi). She represents LLL Great Britain on the Baby Feeding Law Group which works to implement the WHO International Code into UK and European law. Helen tweets as @HelenGrayIBCLC
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