Released on: 07 December 2020
NCT is helping new parents across the UK meet face-to-face to get much needed support from other mums and dads.
This week over 100 NCT Walk and Talks will take place bringing together new and expectant parents. For many this will be the first time they have been able to physically meet other new parents since their baby was born, to share experiences and get support from each other.
As the recent research ¹ from the Duchess of Cambridge's Royal Foundation highlighted, loneliness among parents of young children has dramatically increased during the pandemic. Many are missing the support of family and friends and struggling to cope.
NCT, the UK’s largest charity for parents, launched the initiative to support new mums and dads through their first Christmas and the winter months. Its’ Walk and Talk groups provide face-to-face support and an opportunity to share experiences in a safe, socially distanced way. ²
Demand has been unprecedented. In November, NCT volunteers put on walks for over 6,000 people and they are proving to be a lifeline. Of parents who attended, 93% felt less isolated and 94% felt their mood had improved.
Vicki, a mother who went on a Walk and Talk in Eastleigh, Hampshire, said: “The NCT walks have given me an opportunity to get out of the house and meet other new mums local to me. They also give me a good reason to get up and ready on those difficult days. This is so helpful and has had such a huge impact on my wellbeing as a new mum during lockdown.”
Catherine Bartlett, Volunteer Manager, NCT, said: “We’ve always been about getting new parents together to support each other and the Walk and Talk groups are a great way of doing just that. We know that mums and dads are desperate to get out and meet others, particularly with Christmas and other winter festivals being affected by coronavirus.
“We’re launching this week of winter walks to try to reach those parents who are feeling isolated, anxious and uncertain due to the pandemic. But we urgently need funding to meet the increasing demand through the coming weeks and months.”
The charity has launched an appeal for funding to help recruit more volunteers and provide them with high visibility outdoor wear and support to keep everyone safe in line with Covid-19 guidance. Anyone wishing to donate, can do so here.
¹ State of the Nation: Understanding Public Attitudes to the Early Years, November 2020
² NCT is able to offer these free walks across all four nations within the guidance detailed below. Sessions are free, parents need to pre-book tickets to ensure groups do not exceed their limits. NCT Walk and Talks enable mothers and fathers to meet, with their babies and toddlers, for a socially distanced walk, chat and to support each other while complying with coronavirus restrictions.
• In England, the walks can operate under an exemption for parent support groups. This means they could continue during the recent national lockdown and can continue in all three Tiers from 2 December onwards.
• In Scotland, the walks can take place in any of the COVID protection levels, though the group size differs depending on the COVID protection level in the local area.
• In Northern Ireland, the walks have taken place within the public guidance for social gatherings and can continue during the current national lockdown.
• In Wales, the walks are allowed under the guidance for outdoor organised activity or support group.