An innovative community support programme is making a real difference for new mothers and volunteers in London’s Queen’s Park.
‘Maternity Champion’ volunteers have been recruited to support local families and trained through NCT’s Birth and Beyond Community Peer Supporter scheme, which aims to provide support for families living in difficult social circumstances.
The two year programme, commissioned by Westminster City Council and run by Paddington Development Trust (PDT), aims to work with vulnerable communities to provide support, link parents to local health and maternity services and reduce social isolation.
NCT research has found that nine out of ten parents (92%) said they had benefitted from the support and three quarters (75%) said they felt more confident about their pregnancy or being a parent.
All the Maternity Champions were positive about their training which has led to most of them accessing further education courses. Three have won places on midwifery courses and four have gone on to train as NCT Breastfeeding Peer Supporters.
Anna Maddox, Head of Healthcare Business Development, NCT said: “Though the project is small, the results are significant. Not only have there been very positive benefits for parents, the Maternity Champions themselves have also reaped rewards so it’s been win-win.”
Caroline, a local mother who has been supported by the Maternity Champions, said: “When I went to drop-in sessions, I got to learn how to relate to my baby, how to talk to her, songs to sing her. I was a little down from staying at home too much but the love they showed me really helped.”
Lina, one of the PDT Maternity Champions, said: “I’ve become much more confident through my work. I’ve just started an NCT infant feeding course, which is brilliant. In the future, I’d like to become an infant feeding supporter too.”
The pilot was funded by Westminster City Council, part of a Public Health Team which also includes the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham Council.