Released on: 11 September 2020

Following the changes to Covid-19 guidance in England and Scotland this week, Sarah McMullen, Director of Impact and Engagement, NCT, said:

Gatherings are now limited to a group size of six – this applies indoors and outdoors, and to all ages. In Scotland, the six people must be from only two households and children under 12 are exempt. Links to guidance across the four nations can be found below.

There has been a clear message from Government that everyone needs to avoid unnecessary social interaction to help reduce transmission of the virus. This includes every one of us, as well as the pregnant women, partners and new parents who we support.

This has meant changes to our programme of work to safely restart in-person activities. You can find further details of these changes below, including a rapid update to the Safe Operating Protocol for outdoor ‘walk and talk’ activities.

Through our volunteering and practice, we know just how important social interaction and skilled support is for expectant and new parents and their babies. As a community of volunteers, practitioners and staff, you have worked wonders so that we can continue to support parents during the pandemic. This has had significant reach and impact, improving experiences for thousands of parents.

But we know this isn’t enough. New parents need face-to-face social, emotional and practical support. The recent Babies in Lockdown report showed how families are struggling with the impact of lockdown. We are concerned that families are falling between the cracks, struggling on alone, not able to access breastfeeding or postnatal support, and not having physical, mental health or safeguarding issues picked up in a timely way.

We are as frustrated as you are about the lack of provision in the guidance for women, babies and families. We are in discussion with the Department of Health and Social Care about the inclusion of babies and children in their guidance on groups sizes; working with Public Health England on how to develop more specific guidance for pregnant women and new families; and talking to other organisations to share learning.

Guidance across the four nations:
The most up to date government guidance can be found at the following links:
• UK Government: Coronavirus - guidance and support
• Scottish Government: Coronavirus in Scotland
• Welsh Government: Coronavirus
• Northern Ireland Executive: Coronavirus

The NCT website includes over 30 evidence-based articles on coronavirus and pregnancy, labour and birth, caring for a baby and parenthood.

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