Our Pregnancy Pals and Birth Buddies programme works with vulnerable pregnant women and their partners in the most deprived communities in Derby. We bring together local people who have parenting experience, provide them with accredited training and they provide volunteer peer support to people in their own community. Our early intervention approach aims to improve the wellbeing of pregnant women so that their babies can have the best start in life.
We are aiming to have 30 active volunteers with capacity to provide one-to-one peer support to 100 families each year, building strong relationships, visiting them at home for up to 2 hours as often as required, from early pregnancy through to 3 months post-birth.
Support is provided during labour and birth if needed, enabling more people to fulfil their potential by working to address issues at the earliest possible stage.
In Derwent and Normanton, 2 of the most deprived wards in Derby, we have established Coffee Mornings run by the volunteers to help parents access evidence-based information and other community activities and build their own peer support networks. Some of our volunteers have identified a need for the provision of ‘baby bundles’ for families who are financially excluded and are struggling to pay for the basic equipment needed for their baby so we are seeking a small amount of funding to pilot these.
Volunteering - We have 20 active volunteers, and will use this crowdfunding to cover the costs of recruiting and training 12 volunteers next year. We will offer a free four-week taster course which enables participants to gain new skills, build their confidence and find out if the role is right for them. People who go on to become volunteers attend an extended training course (76 hours in total). Volunteers receive one-to-one safeguarding supervision from the project manager every 2 months, and attend monthly peer group meetings which support their development and enable them to learn from each other.
Our project incorporates 6 core principles for successful volunteering with parents:
- fostering positive interpersonal relationships
- reciprocal, ensuring all stakeholders can contribute
- evidence-based but adaptive
- operating collaboratively alongside other services
- clear about aims and boundaries for volunteering
These core principles were identified by the evidence review, "Volunteering and Early Childhood Outcomes" (2016), conducted by Parents 1st and IVAR and commissioned by the Big Lottery Fund for the “A Better Start” programme.
This review found considerable evidence that "mothers consistently report that one-to-one volunteer and peer support reduces their stress and increases their self-esteem, parenting confidence and emotional wellbeing, including reducing feelings of anxiety and depression (Akister 2011, Barlow 2012, Bhavani 2014b, Granville 2012, Kenkre 2011, McAuley 2004, Spiby 2015, Suppiah 2008)."