An NCT drop-in service in Milton Keynes has secured funding through the MK Community Foundation for its tireless and valuable work supporting parents during the Covid crisis.
Throughout lockdown, Peggy Chemo and Sarah Haynes from Milton Keynes NCT branch offered local mums a lifeline by holding online drop-in sessions. There was a postnatal Zoom session once a week, as well as two more for feeding.
These sessions proved so valuable that the branch secured a grant through the MK Community Foundation, called the Anglian Water Positive Difference Fund. This is given to groups delivering projects which have a positive impact on the people and communities they serve during the coronavirus pandemic, and in particular helping isolated and vulnerable people.
Because of their success, there are now two feeding support sessions a week, as well as two further postnatal sessions. The branch also runs a nappy library and Walk and Talk sessions, which have newly restarted.
Jennifer, one mum who attended the postnatal sessions, said: “It was really helpful to know that there were others out there that I wasn’t alone, and that there were adults I could talk to other than my husband. It’s been a horrible time to have a baby right at the beginning of lock down, so lonely and exhausting.”
Your drop-in session on sleep during lockdown was literally a life saver for a first time mum
Another mum, Sarah Kessling, said: “Peggy Cheyo, your drop-in session on sleep during lockdown was literally a life saver for a first time mum.
“We had gone into lockdown and I was beginning to enter the four month sleep regression. My partner was poorly and self isolating and it’s not like anyone could come round and help me.
“I was also suffering with huge bouts of anxiety as well. Talking to you guys and seeing other mums really helped to keep things in perspective and helped me to stay on top of my mental health. Your recommendation of some books to try were also a real game changer. Thank you.”
Throughout lockdown, many postnatal practitioners have been running Early Days courses online, as well as volunteering at free drop-in sessions to support mums.
NCT has peer support programmes around the country, working hard to offer remote 1:1 and group peer support during the pandemic. Many mums have benefitted from this.
The services maintained WhatsApp groups, Zoom calls and 1:1 support for six months and have recently started Walk and Talks. Those interactions were some of the only adult contact our single parent service users had in a six-month period.
Parents have had a very different experience that they may well have imagined when they became pregnant, from changes in hospital appointments and scans to the actual birth and the support surrounding this.
Our services have continued throughout this time to reach and offer support to new parents. With many services stopping and our face to face meet-ups needing to move online, it has been a very different type of support. But we know from our feedback that it has been more vital than ever.
Through our NHS funded antenatal classes, Perinatal Peer Support Programmes and Infant Feeding Programmes, our 278 peer supporters have helped over 3,500 parents during lockdown.
Funded by the Department of Health, our Parents in Mind programme trains local volunteers to support women experiencing emotional health difficulties in pregnancy and within the first two years of life. Find out more here.
Read about our Birth and Beyond Community Supporters (BBCS) – our programme that trains local women to become volunteer peer supporters in order to help mums during the all-important first 1,000 days.
Our Walk and Talks are up and running again! Get involved in one in your local area.