Founder Joanne Hanson- Halliwell photo courtesy of Claire Barlow Photography


Life has a way of changing things in the most incredible ways..but seeing life before you are meant to brought me my greatest life lesson


It's quite amazing what can bring people together, especially in a place like Dubai. For me, it was an unexpected, life-changing experience and a journey that would change my life forever. We are a group of families whose paths crossed when our babies were born prematurely at Mediclinic City Hospital, Dubai. We spent weeks and months together, all day, every day and when one of us eventually left the Unit we would share the joy and the tears as the next chapter was about to begin.

My name is Joanne, a very proud farmer's daughter who was raised on a dairy farm in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire, UK. I started a career in finance and moved to Dubai after meeting my "husband-to-be" whilst here on a girls' weekend and we started our life together. We married and were blessed with a baby. As my family and friends all know, I am not the girl who does "normal", but a normal pregnancy was something I assumed I would have...but no, why change the habit of a lifetime?

I decided to start Small and Mighty Babies as watching so many people come into NICU, whether at Mediclinic City Hospital or anywhere in the UAE, we all go through the same emotions. When the doors of NICU first opened, I was an emotional wreck and everything I could see, hear and smell was totally out of my comfort zone. As I sat there crying and praying, one of the girls came up to me and said "it's going to be ok, it gets better, don't be scared". The smile and twinkle in her eyes gave me the strength I needed and knowing I had a friend who had gone through what I was going through gave me so much comfort. We became good friends but NICU can be a lonely place and hence I started to think about a support group, this is when Small and Mighty Babies became a reality. For the families who I shared my time in NICU with I thank you for the support you gave me to have the courage to start Small and Mighty Babies.

No matter which hospital or city you are based Small and Mighty Babies can be a support network for you. We are mothers and our hearts beat the same as we love, prayer and nurture our babies currently on life support. Our group hopes to help families who may just need someone to talk to outside a medical environment, share information, guidance and support, please get in touch.

Contact me at to find your local Small and Mighty Babies group.