Our Birth and Beyond Community Support programme trains local women to become volunteer peer supporters to help mums during the all-important first 1,000 days of parenthood. Find out more about this programme, how you can support us and get involved.
What is the Birth and Beyond Community Support Programme?
The programme aims to provide support to new mums and women from groups and communities who often experience day-to-day challenges and social exclusion. The objectives of this service are:
- Improve emotional wellbeing
- Reduce isolation and loneliness
- Improve confidence and self esteem
- Increase access to local services
The programme is an innovative peer support service that focuses on engaging and supporting women and vulnerable families.
Central to the programme is the training of local volunteers to lead the peer to peer support programme, giving other new mums skills supporting others in their community.
"The training drew on skills I already had and made me more aware of the power of listening. I feel more prepared now for my role as a BBCS and look forward to empowering and supporting other mothers in their parenting journey."
To learn more about how to get involved as a volunteer, please see the 'How can I volunteer for BBCS' section.
What is community peer support?
Our volunteers, who will have experienced the challenges of being a mother, are trained to support other local mothers in one-to-one and groups settings. They can support women at any time from pregnancy through to their child’s second birthday.
Volunteers offer a kind, listening ear and can signpost and accompany women to services and organisations that may be helpful to an individual's circumstances. We find that this really helps to connect mothers with their local communities. The project regularly supports women who may have no recourse to public funds, who may be very isolated physically and emotionally, and who may be experiencing low to moderate mental health difficulties.
Why is community support important?
We believe that that the Birth and Beyond Community Support programme helps us to connect with our vision of a world where no parent is isolated and all parents are supported to build a stronger society.
Where is the service running?
The service is currently available to pregnant women or mothers with a child under the age of two living in one of the following areas:
• Peterborough and Wisbech
• Hounslow, Greater London
The Peterborough and Lincolnshire projects are only possible due to funding from the National Lottery and our Hounslow project is funded by the local CCG.
How can I access this support service?
While women can self-refer into the service, it can be difficult accessing services when in need. Our team works closely with health professionals across the sites to encourage them to refer mothers who may be at risk of social isolation.
Please complete the form if you would like to refer a mother or pregnant woman to our Birth and Beyond Community Supporters Team.
All referrals go to the local project manager. Once the referral is received, they will make contact with the mother. There will be a short telephone interview where the Service Delivery Manager will explain what the service can offer and ask them what they’d like to get out of the service. If the service is suitable, the woman will then be matched with a volunteer who will arrange to meet them.
All meetings take place in public places or at appropriate groups but we are also able to offer a small number of home visits if that's what's best for the mother.
How can I volunteer for BBCS?
Key to the success of this service is the local parents who have the passion, skills and commitment to train as Birth and Beyond Community Supporters and volunteer in their local community supporting other parents.
Since completing the NCT Birth and Beyond course, I have been given the opportunity to volunteer at one of our local feeding clinics. This has been so helpful, not only in giving me more confidence in putting everything I have learnt in to practice but also an insight of how useful this programme could be for mums and family’s in our community.
The training is Open College Network (OCN) accredited Level 2 training (5 credits) and will enable the volunteers to:
- Actively listen to the needs of the mother and offering encouragement, support, information and ideas without giving advice
- Provide support to women both one-to-one and in community settings e.g. a local café, baby groups
- Research local groups and organisations that can offer support and signposting women to them
If this sounds like something you’d like to get involved with, please review the role description and submit your application.
What are we looking for?
- Experienced mothers who have a friendly and approachable manner who will try to understand the mother’s situation without judgement
- Empathy and listening skills plus interest in developing these skills in training
- A commitment of at least 2hrs per week to volunteer for a minimum of 6 months
Our training is six weekly sessions of three hours and these are normally held during weekdays. The training must be completed prior to volunteering. Please note, an enhanced DBS check is required for this role. There will also be regular attendance at monthly team meetings to receive ongoing training and support.
Meet one of our volunteers
Lisa Gore tells us about her experience training to be a volunteer for the Birth and Beyond project and how it’s changed her life.
"I’m currently unemployed and have been for a few months now. I’d really had my confidence knocked and it was impacting on me personally. I was in a really bad place and felt quite helpless, so when I heard about the Birth and Beyond project, I wanted to find out more.
I was going to sign up with my neighbour but then she couldn’t because of work, I did um and ah about whether I could still do it on my own but I’m so pleased I carried on. Within 15 minutes of going along to the ‘toe in the water’ session, I knew this was something I wanted in on. It felt comfortable.
I’ve loved every bit of the training, sometimes I’ve surprised myself with how much I knew and sometimes I’ve been shocked at how much I didn’t know! But it’s been really interesting and there’s so much support. There’s loads of support after the training too, we have a Facebook group so we can share our experiences and ask questions with other volunteers. Already my confidence has shot through the roof.
I feel like I have the old me back."