Informal peer support offers a unique and invaluable contribution to achieving healthier pregnancies, better births and happier babies.
It can reduce pressure on public services by being embedded alongside maternity and early years services.
The resources and approach we are sharing on this website are based on clear and strong evidence of what works across the UK and other countries too.
Having a baby should be an exciting life changing event but for some this is not always the case for a range of reasons.
Support from carefully recruited volunteers through pregnancy, birth and beyond has been proven to have clear benefits to the wellbeing of mothers, fathers, partners and babies.
Parents are not the only ones to benefit however; volunteers frequently describe their volunteering experience as 'life changing'.
Benefits for parents:
- ✔ Mothers, fathers and partners build their confidence, feel supported, prepare for changes ahead, and feel less stressed
- ✔ Improved wellbeing of parents means healthier pregnancies, less complicated births and happier babies
- ✔ Parents get to know what services are available to them and volunteers help them to benefit from them
Evidence from evaluations (Parents 1st Essex):
- ✔ 78% of parents show a positive change
- ✔ When comparing answers during pregnancy with those at three months after the birth there are no negative changes and there are positive changes for 93% (highly statistically significant)
- ✔ 70% had improved access to local services and 67% had improved communication with professionals involved in their care (highly statistically significant)
Benefits for volunteers:
Volunteers gain satisfaction from ‘giving’ to their community. They make new friends, improve their confidence, develop new skills and gain pathways to employment.
A wealth of evidence shows that volunteers gain:
- ✔ Satisfaction from contributing to the wellbeing of others
- ✔ Increased awareness of local community issues and available services
- ✔ Increased self-confidence, self-esteem and a sense of achievement
Evidence from evaluations (Parents 1st Essex) also shows that volunteers gain:
- ✔ Personal development opportunities
- ✔ Improved knowledge of health and parenting that benefits their own families
- ✔ Work experience
- ✔ A mutually supportive group learning experience
- ✔ Gateways into new training opportunities, qualifications and employment