Solace (Solace Peer Support CIC) is a social enterprise, that believes that basic social support can make an enormous difference to the most vulnerable families. Solace provides holistic peer support; befriending support during pregnancy and the initial postnatal period, in addition to birth partner support. Liaising with other organisations in the community, helps to support women to build a wider support network and access practical resources.
For some women their journey through pregnancy, birth and the initial postnatal period, is shaped by high levels of social adversity, trauma and isolation. Giving your child the best start to life, can be very difficult when facing the stress of homelessness/poor housing, extreme poverty and a range of other social challenges. The impacts of social deprivation during pregnancy and the initial postnatal period; can impact in across all aspects of life, both short and long term.
The supportive relationships developed by multi-agency health and social care professionals are crucial in determining the best outcomes for women and their families. The peer support role is about the wider social support helping to reduce the isolation and stress experienced by the most marginalised women; helping to promote the best outcomes, for the women we support and their families.
Last year we received funding to design an accredited Perinatal Peer Support training course; CACHE Level 1 and 2 Perinatal Peer Support- Supporting Women Facing Social Disadvantage. We are really keen to look at developing this training further, potentially developing a Level 3/Access to HE qualification, in addition to CPD training and online courses. The course was designed based on the insights of women with experiences of high levels of multiple social disadvantage. In total 25 women took part in the research; they provided insights from a wide range of lived experience, including street homelessness, living in hostels, street-based sex work and addiction.
A further outcome of the research was to start a ‘Bumps and Beyond’ group run in collaboration with Homestart. A recurring theme in the research was the need a different approach to antenatal group provision, to meet the needs of the most marginalised women; with a focus on building self-esteem, life skills and social connections, in addition to providing practical resources such as clothing donations.