Since 2005, the launch of NCT’s first strategy, the charity has doubled in size, increased the number of parents it supports and created more services for them, as well as succeeding in many of its campaign goals. To help deliver these objectives the charity has created an infrastructure to help support every expectant couple in the UK and merged with two charities to support even more new parents (Baby Café and MIDIRS).
This growth and expanding role makes it an ideal time for NCT to re-examine its charitable remit. So the charity now has an updated vision, new priorities for the future and a strategy for the coming decade – to 2020.
Belinda Phipps Chief executive says: “NCT is reaching huge numbers of parents right across the social spectrum, but is reputed to only be working with middle to higher income families. This image puts off others. We have been changing this, and want to go further still to make sure the means we use to reach people work for everyone. We need to change the way people see the charity too, so every parent knows they are welcome."
The charity’s new strategy includes a focus on growth, to make sure everyone has the chance to make use of our support, more emphasis on thought leadership to create a change in public opinion, services and policy which benefits all parents, and partnership, working with a wider network of organisations and services to benefit all parents.
Examples of how the charity is expanding its reach include working to increase NHS and local authority contracts to deliver services to parents. Already, 16% of parents receiving NCT antenatal education do so free through contracts with NHS and Children’s Centres. NCT provides free breastfeeding support through NCT breastfeeding counsellors and NCT-trained breastfeeding peer supporters, reaching parents from all backgrounds and parenting in a variety of situations.
Belinda Phipps continues: "NCT has been the charity which has changed the political climate so policy makers understand the health benefits of breastfeeding and that most women want to breastfeed. This has led to some needed policy and law changes but we need to be clearer that we provide support services for everyone. Our breastfeeding counsellors can help when you are using formula as well as when you are breastfeeding. Breasts don't come with instructions on the side so it takes a lot of training for our practitioners to have the necessary expertise to help women with breastfeeding. Our counsellors listen, provide suggestions and support for parents using formula too. It is important that we do because manufacturers have a vested interest in selling formula and may not always provide evidence based information to mothers.”
The charity wants all parents-to-be and new mothers and fathers to know it is there to help, whether they are part of the 80% of parents who start breastfeeding or the smaller number who decide to formula feed from the start. Most parents do some of each and all parents can call NCT’s helpline on 0300 330 0700.