Released on: 18 September 2017

NCT has been awarded new funding to train more than 200 Birth and Beyond Community Supporters in five areas of England.

NCT has been awarded new funding from the Early Years Social Action Fund¹, run by innovation foundation Nesta and supported by Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to train more than 200 Birth and Beyond Community Supporters² (BBCS) in five areas of England.

These new volunteers will support hundreds of mothers in disadvantaged communities who are at risk of isolation and struggling to access the services they need.

BBCS programmes offer support to mothers during the all-important first 1,000 days to reduce isolation, improve emotional wellbeing and increase access to local services. This support creates the conditions to strengthen the parent-infant relationship during the early years which impacts on a child’s longer term social, cognitive and emotional development.

New programmes will begin in the autumn in Feltham, West London where NCT is working with a local school; and in Peterborough, where the charity has partnered with a local housing association. NCT is also working with potential partners in Yorkshire and the West Midlands for more sites to commence next spring.

Nick Wilkie, Chief Executive, NCT, said: “We’re deeply committed to increasing the reach and diversity of our services for parents so are very much looking forward to scaling up our work in less affluent communities.

“We’ve already run successful* programmes, in places like Bankside in Leeds and the Mozart Estate in London, and it’s clear they have the potential to make a significant impact on a much wider scale.

“Being chosen by Nesta to help improve children’s development is no small matter for us. It’s a ringing endorsement of the work we’ve done to build effective peer support programmes over the last few years.”

¹ The fund aims to help more children, aged four and under, achieve their developmental milestones by backing social action programmes where volunteers support parents and primary carers.
Social action is any practical activity where people give their time alongside public services to improve others’ lives and solve the problems important to their communities. With a focus on supporting families most in need, the projects funded today aim to build confidence in parents and carers - recognising the critical role they play as first educators in children’s development.
Parents are supported by trained volunteers to help children reach developmental milestones focused on areas of behaviour, cognitivity and attachment. Types of support range from supporting new parents to connect with services and peer-to-peer support, through to using technology to help track and improve a child’s word usage.

² NCT’s Birth and Beyond Community Peer Supporter (BBCS) schemes aim to provide support for families living in difficult social circumstances, including young parents, recent migrants with little English and particular communities who make limited use of maternity and other health services. The role of the BBCS is to engage with local parents as befrienders, offering empathy and encouragement, and to signpost them to relevant services.

* Parents from the Mozart Estate, North West London who had received support from a BBCS volunteer found that:
● 85% felt more positive
● 75% felt more confident
● 85% felt that they had a better knowledge of services
● 89% felt that they were more confident in accessing services
● 92% felt that they had benefitted from the programme

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