How is NCT supporting vulnerable women during the coronavirus pandemic?

Find out about our perinatal peer support projects and how we’re adapting our services to continue to support vulnerable women

COVID-19 has affected us all but for vulnerable pregnant women or new mums already struggling with mental health issues and at risk of isolation, the situation has become even harder.

Our perinatal peer support projects reduce the stigma of perinatal mental health, increase social cohesion and reduce loneliness among pregnant women or mums with children under two.

Many women supported by the projects are single parents, or may have challenging home lives. They might not have English as a first language or may be living away from family and so are already at high risk of social isolation.

What do our peer supporters do?

The emotional support our volunteers give will be even more vital.

Our trained volunteer peer supporters offer a listening ear and non-judgemental support, helping women to develop coping strategies and to access local services. The restrictions on daily life and the ability to meet others is being felt even more by an already vulnerable community. The emotional support our volunteers give will be even more vital.

Our volunteers support women to find local resources and support. This includes finding out how a mum can continue to get food from food banks, or assisting a mother concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on her already stretched finances to get clear financial advice.

How are women being supported now?

Our services have always relied on face-to-face support. But COVID-19 has meant we’ve had to implement urgent changes to our service models.

We’ve switched to phone support and using WhatsApp and Zoom to keep the conversation flowing between peer supporters and mothers.

For instance, some of our volunteers are now facilitating group support through WhatsApp instead of in-person group peer support.

Mothers experiencing perinatal mental health difficulties can still chat to others in their communities, as well as hear from volunteers who have lived experience. So far, the feedback has been positive and the groups are really active.

Our WhatsApp groups are providing a sense of community and company at what is such an isolating time.

“Although we may not be able to meet face to face, we can of course continue to listen during these anxious times. Women now have weekly access to a phone call or the option to talk over text with a peer supporter. For many women, making the weekly trip to visit their Parents in Mind support group was part of their fight against feeling isolated. Our WhatsApp groups have been gratefully received, providing a sense of community and company at what is such an isolating time,” says Volunteer Team leader for Parents in Mind in Halton and St Helens, Holly Flynn.

“These groups have already become positive places of mothers sharing between one another with the guided support of our peer supporters, sharing self-care tips and helpful signposting. When most services within mental health have had to stop, we continue to be a pillar of support.”

Get in touch

If you or someone you know might benefit from our peer support services, please get in touch. We’re always looking for new peer supporters to join the service too.

Find out more about our Parents in Mind service here.

Read about our Birth and Beyond Community Support (BBCS) here.