Mums-to-be and new parents can benefit from a range of support being provided through weekly sessions in the community thanks to a new Walsall project that has been set up.
The Maternity Outreach Project has been funded by Walsall Together through its the Population Health and Inequalities Grant Scheme.
It has been pioneered by Carol King-Stephens, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Lead Midwife with Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and is in response to feedback she has gathered from local people.
As a result, she has set up sessions at the Nash Dom Community Hub in Sun Street, Walsall, where a Community Midwife is on hand to support mums and dads-to-be.
Carol said: “I have spent a lot of time getting out and about in our communities and many mums-to-be and new parents have told me they feel more comfortable being able to access information in the community rather than a hospital setting.
“This can be for a variety of reasons – some feel language is a barrier, some feel more confident in a non-clinical setting, others may need a different environment to build up trust with a Midwife.
“At Nash Dom we offer support with breastfeeding, mental health and transition to fatherhood. We also run gestational diabetes education sessions and offer information on health conditions experienced specifically by people from ethnic minority groups such as Sickle Cell and Thalassemia.
“I wanted to create a safe space for pregnant women and new mums who are not socially engaged to meet others and to be referred to other wraparound services as appropriate.
“The sessions are based on what people have told me they feel they don’t have and are based on the disparities highlighted in the MBRRACE report.”
A Maternity Support Worker and clerk have been funded for the sessions and a continuity of care clinic is also being based there.
Walsall Together is a partnership of health, social, housing, voluntary and community organisations. It works together to improve physical and mental health outcomes, promote wellbeing and reduce inequalities across the borough.
Michelle McManus, Director of Place Development and Transformation for Walsall Together said: “We were really pleased to be able to support this new outreach project using our health inequalities funding.
“The work Carol does is so important in making Maternity Services more accessible, and in helping to understand more about the barriers faced so we can make changes and improve maternity services and outcomes for the families we struggle to reach.”
Walsall Healthcare’s Well Wishers charity has also supported this initiative, offering welcome packs to the first 100 through the door.
Georgie Westley, Fundraising Manager, said: “The work Carol does to reach out to our under-served communities is so worthwhile and Well Wishers wanted to do something to help this important new project.
“The charity has funded toys and welcome packs for the mums who use the group as its way of making women and their families feel welcome and feel they are part of the wider community.
“We wish Carol all the best in this new venture which is committed to breaking down barriers and making our healthcare services accessible to all.”
The sessions are free to attend and run every Thursday and Friday between 9am and 5pm.