We’re delighted that Newham Nurture received a City of Sanctuary award this month, in recognition of their contribution to supporting those seeking sanctuary. Find out more.
You may not have heard of Newham Nurture, a partnership project with NCT, Alternatives Trust, The Magpie Project and Compost London. It supports women from low income, migrant and marginalised backgrounds during and after pregnancy, and was co-created by a group of women with lived experience.
Newham Nurture provides families with antenatal education, postnatal sessions with infant feeding support, peer support, regular workshops, and practical support. It connects women with suitable services, and staff and peer supporters walk along side mums, advocating for them and helping to navigate the hostile environment.
Last month, the project won a Maternity Service of Sanctuary award from City of Sanctuary UK. City of Sanctuary UK is a nationally coordinated network of organisations and services, including councils, universities, theatres and libraries that welcome and support refugees and people seeking asylum.
Newham Nurture supports mums who face many barriers and challenges. Here are just a couple of examples of women who have accessed help from the project below.
I was alone in the hospital all by myself…I felt it was a dangerous situation as I was alone
One mum that Newham Nurture has supported is Mrs K, who came to the UK from India in 2018 with her husband. She had no support network in the UK when she became pregnant and had her baby in 2020, before the Newham Nurture project was established.
Mrs K was referred to Newham Nurture to attend Baby&Me sessions, and was surprised to see this offered in the UK.
She said: “I was all alone in the hospital by myself. I felt it was a dangerous situation because of my c-section situation, as I was alone and this shouldn’t happen. I never attended any pregnancy classes and I didn’t know any.”
During the Baby&Me sessions, she mentioned she was struggling with food and couldn’t attend the sessions as her buggy didn’t always work. Newham Nurture supported her by exchanging her buggy, providing clothes and toys for her daughter and referring her to the food alliance programme so she could access a food bank.
The support from Newham Nurture has allowed Mrs K to meet other mums and signposted her to information about the local children’s centre. She said: “Initially I almost became depressed because I was stuck in the room, I found my daughter has started to talk since attending the session. I find these sessions very welcoming as lots of mums get together and chat together.”
Ms D was 20 weeks pregnant when she fled domestic violence to emergency hotel accommodation in Newham. She was referred to Newham Nurture through Care4Calais.
She speaks only Spanish, so using a professional interpreter, Newham Nurture helped her access their pregnancy sessions, referred her to a specialist midwife team and registered her with a GP. Newham Nurture were able to help her to quickly find a solicitor for advice and to have a psychiatric assessment to support her asylum claim as requested by Migrant Help.
Since you enrolled me in the pregnancy class, my life has changed completely
Ms D has continued to attend the antenatal classes at Newham Nurture regularly and says she is able to understand how her child is growing. She’s enjoying the classes and looking forward to knowing more as her pregnancy progresses. Her peer supporter has assisted her in completing forms and accessing the local children’s centre, as well as applying for a hardship grant and food provision.
She said: “Since you enrolled me in the pregnancy class, my life has changed completely. Thanks to the help of Newham Nurture and The Magpie Project I was able to go to Tesco and Asda to buy my food and have it here in my room.
“I’m very happy because you’ve helped me a lot and also to connect with other organisations to help me find a lawyer. She can take my case because I am practically alone.”
At the NCT AGM this week, we heard from Blessing, a steering group member for Newham Nurture.
When I come here and they smile, all of my sadness goes away – I have found my sisters here.
The steering group is comprised of 11 women who have lived experience of the hardships, challenges and barriers that migrant and marginalised families face and need to overcome when accessing maternity services.
She said: “We share our thoughts to ensure the service is accessible, inclusive, and relevant to the women who need our support. We attend focus groups, feedback from workshops, assist in the interviewing of staff and volunteer roles, and we help with informal interpretation.”
Blessing movingly shared the words of one mum who attends Newham Nurture: “It’s good for me and my baby to come here. It’s so welcoming, when I come here and they smile, all of my sadness goes away – I have found my sisters here.”
Siân Summers-Rees, Chief Officer at City of Sanctuary UK, said: “Newham Nurture truly exemplifies sanctuary in maternity care. Pregnancy and parenthood can be daunting – even more so when also going through the UK asylum system – but Newham Nurture’s innovative and inclusive programming ensures more families get the care, support, friendship and community that we all deserve.
“We all have a part to play in building a kinder, fairer, more equitable society; through this award we formally recognise and celebrate Newham Nurture’s phenonemal contribution.”
You can find out more about Newham Nurture and how to access support here.
Our Parents in Mind project trains local volunteers to support women experiencing emotional health difficulties in pregnancy and within the first two years after birth. It runs groups in Newham, Coventry and Warwickshire and the North West. Read more about it.
We run free, volunteer-led groups for parents and babies across the UK and Channel Islands. Find out if there’s anything going on in your area.