Early Nourishment Community Interest Company provides services to support families that are universally accessible & free to all; investing in the physical & mental wellbeing of parents, carers and children across North Devon & Torridge.
Our mission is to have a positive impact on the mental & physical wellbeing of parents & children across North Devon & Torridge. We strive to do this by collaborating with other voluntary and statutory agencies where possible; as well as up skilling individuals from the community to provide evidence based support to their peers in a safe and supportive manner
What have we been doing?
Up until just over a month ago we were running 3 infant feeding drop ins across North Devon & Torridge (Braunton, Barnstaple & Bideford), as well as offering breastpump hire, online breastfeeding support via our facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/encicBFsupport/ & running 2 stay & play groups at the Forches Childrens Centre.
Since establishing as a CiC 18months ago, we have trained up over 30 amazing breastfeeding peer supporters who attend the feeding drop-ins to offer evidence-based support & a listening ear to mums attending. Our groups are open to all and easily accessible, statutory services signpost parents to them & we work in close collaboration.
The COVID-19 effect
Since the UK ‘Lockdown’ began on 20th March, Early Nourishment has transformed itself into an online service in order to support expectant and new parents who are particularly high risk to the impacts of COVID-19 and need increased support in the face of distinct COVID-19 challenges. We need to secure funding in order to continue to provide these vital services to new and existing clients in North Devon in this time of heightened fear and social distancing/isolation. We have so far:
- Created a new Early Nourishment Online Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/encic/, with 320 members joining since 18th March; it has been shared on the local council website as a Covid-19 resource for families. The group offers support with infant feeding, play activities at home, 2 antenatal e-learning modules (which are signposted to by local maternity services) as well as a closed space to chat with other local parents/caregivers. We have also hosted Rosey from PND&Me running a perinatal mental health Q&A.
- Increased our facebook reach – in the last month we have reached 11.5k people & had nearly 4.5k engagements on our posts https://www.facebook.com/earlynourishment/
- Continued to facilitate our Early Nourishment Feeding drop-in, with Hannah our Brestfeeding Counsellor along with our peer supporters attending & offering support via Zoom.
- Moved our stay & play sessions Babbling Babies & Little Pebbles to a new Zoom format, hosted as always by out fab playworker Emma
- Created a new Hug in a mug zoom call for parents to join in and speak to other parents. Again facilitated by Emma who is an experienced play & family support worker, giving opportunity to signpost to more specialist support if needed.
- Supported over 30 different parents on a 1:1 basis with infant feeding support via messaging, telephone & video calling.
- Starting a trial of maternity ward feeding drop-ins for women on the postnatal ward of NDDH, as requested by the infant feeding midwives.
COVID-19 is causing a lot of anxiety for parents & also causing many who are already isolated to feel even more lonely. One of the aims of EN Online is to ensure availability of breastfeeding support for new parents as research has shown the importance of breastfeeding for babies’ health in a viral context, as well as long-term health outcomes. The lack of research about the impacts of this new virus on pregnant/new mothers & their babies, combined with media coverage of tragic cases, means that there is an urgent need for Early Nourishment Online to be a vital source of reliable research-based information & a social lifeline for parents in North Devon. In addition the First 1001 days Movement published a statement on 9th April 2020 which highlights the importance of maintaining services which provide support from conception to 2, not just for parents but for the future wellbeing of children.
Where we are now:
Up until the lockdown we had been running all our sessions in person & have been doing so for the last 18 months, gradually expanding services to cover the whole of North Devon & Torridge. We have been working alongside local maternity & health visiting services to ensure our services are robust and well governed. We were waiting on a final decision for our Reaching Communities bid to the lottery, however all lottery funding has been paused to this fund & so it has left us with very little funding to continue at present. If anything the demand for our services has gone up right now and we are eager to ensure that we can continue to provide services to support parents/caregivers across North Devon & Torridge, not only with infant feeding but also to continue to provide a forum, albeit virtually, to reduce social isolation & promote community connectedness.
What will we spend it on?
Any money donated will enable us to continue running our virtual support, keep our peer supporters updates & once 'normality' resumes, if there is any left it will allow us to get back to running our face to face groups whilst we apply for further funding and/or wait for our lottery application to be processed.