Nesta is supporting NCT with £225,094 funding to scale the Birth and Beyond Community Supporters programme to at least five new locations
Nesta is supporting NCT with £225,094 funding to scale the Birth and Beyond Community Supporters (BBCS) programme to at least five new locations across the country. Through the Fund, 220 volunteers will be mobilised; supporting many new parents and children. NCT will also be supported to strengthen their evidence base and, in particular, the connection of the programme to children’s outcomes.
NCT is a parenting charity that supports new parents by giving them accurate, impartial information so they can decide what’s best for their family. They also introduce parents to a network of other local parents to gain practical and emotional support.
Birth and Beyond Community Supporters trains volunteers to support women who are at risk of isolation and / or not accessing services they need in disadvantaged communities. Women are supported in their first 1,000 days of parenthood to increase knowledge of early years development, grow in confidence in parenting and access more of the services they need.
In 2011, NCT secured funding from the Department of Health to expand the support it gives to parents in order to reach a more diverse, vulnerable population. The programme aimed to provide emotional support to women from communities at risk of exclusion, signpost them to local services and reduce isolation, leading to improvements in the quality of the parent-infant relationship. This pilot ran in four locations across the UK over a three-year period.
The project enabled the Birth and Beyond Community Supporters programme to be defined. BBCS currently trains peer support volunteers to support expectant and new mothers who are at risk of isolation, and support them using a strengths-based approach to increase social connections, improve mental health and increase parental competence.
Volunteers are recruited from the local community and are then trained to listen and empower the women through positive supportive relationships, and to signpost them to reliable sources of information and other local services.
Volunteers commit to a minimum of 10 hours per month of volunteering and, depending on the mother, will meet her between two and five times per month. Currently BBCS operates in North West London.
The programme will enable NCT to increase the scale of its projects to a further five areas of England.
In each area, volunteers will give emotional and practical support to mothers to improve their wellbeing and mental health. The supporters’ knowledge and confidence will enable new mothers to access local services and sources of community support.
The aim is to enable new mothers to have good quality interactions with their children and help them to become sensitive and responsive parents. Strong parent-infant relationships are associated with improved attachment security and executive function – both of which are building blocks for a child to reach social, emotional and cognitive developmental milestones.
Increasing the number of BBCS programmes is a key step in NCT achieving its vision of a world in which no parent is isolated and all parents are supported to build a stronger society.