Birth and Beyond Peer Supporters
Manchester Settlement is pleased to be working with the national Charity NCT to deliver the Birth and Beyond Community Support Programme from 2020 - 2022 in North Manchester. The programme has been funded by the Manchester First 1000 days - Population Health Programme
Birth and Beyond Community Support (BBCS) is a peer support project for new and expectant mothers. At its core, BBCS aims to bring mothers in disadvantaged areas out of isolation, improving their parental confidence and self-esteem. The support is non-judgemental and helps families engage in their community, and build a self-sustaining support network.
The volunteer peer supporters are all parents themselves, with similar backgrounds and experiences to those they support. They receive specialist OCN-accredited training to learn active listening, role-modelling and signposting. Using these tools, the peer supporters build trusting relationships with the beneficiaries in order to reduce isolation, stress and low mood during pregnancy and the first two years after birth.
BBCS is purposefully designed to accommodate the varying needs of the diverse beneficiaries. The support can come in the form of:
• sharing information to build a woman’s confidence and self-belief;
• active listening and experience-sharing sessions in a 1:1 setting;
• helping the mum leave the house (e.g. carrying a pushchair downstairs);
• attending groups or appointments with her until she’s confident enough to go alone;
• signposting her to services like English courses, housing charities or women’s refuges.
There is extensive evidence that poor mental well-being, whether perinatal or caused by living situation, makes it harder for parents to deliver the sensitive and attentive care we know babies need for their cognitive and emotional development. By normalising the struggles of parenting through shared experience, BBCS peer supporters can reduce the stress and shame that many of the beneficiaries feel, and so improve their relationship with their child.