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Pilot project aims to give babies the Best Start for Life

Baby and adult (stock image)

A PROJECT that brings together services, advice and support to help new parents during the first 1,001 days of their babies’ lives is being piloted in Leicester.

Leicester City Council, Leicester Partnership NHS Trust (LPT), University Hospitals Leicester (UHL), and local charities Heads Up Leicester and Leicester Mammas, are working together to deliver the Best Start for Life programme.

The £1.5million pilot project – funded by the Department of Health and Social Care – has set up a programme of specialist support, activities, workshops and advice for families to help ensure their children get the best start during the crucial first two years of their lives.

As part of the pilot project, a new digital antenatal health and wellbeing contact has been launched. This is available to all pregnant people living in Leicester and provides an opportunity to access advice and information to help with a happy and healthy pregnancy.

Four free antenatal sessions – called ‘Bumps to Babies’ – are also available to help parents-to-be with information and advice about pregnancy, birth, feeding and keeping baby safe and well.  These sessions are delivered across the city’s children’s, family and young people’s centres.

University Hospitals Leicester and Leicester Mammas are also working together to recruit and train parents with experience of breastfeeding to become volunteer hospital breastfeeding peer supporters.

In addition, there will be therapeutic playgroups delivered by Heads Up Leicester, and Best Start for Life practitioners and extra support for families will also be provided by Leicester Partnership NHS Trust through health visiting contacts.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Sarah Russell said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to work together with our colleagues in the NHS and local charities to provide additional support and services to children and their families.

“The first months and years of a baby’s life set many of the foundations for their lifelong development. They can also often be challenging times for new parents. This pilot programme is an opportunity to bring long-lasting benefits to families across the city.”

Sam Newby, Family Services Manager for LPT said: “We take immense pride in participating in this national pilot, which aims to enhance outcomes for children and families throughout Leicester. By adopting even closer collaboration with our partner agencies, we aspire to strengthen the services we provide and foster stronger working relationships. Our newly formed team of professionals are eagerly prepared to offer support to our families during their first 1,001 critical days and at the same time complement our existing service offer.”

Lindsay Woodward, CEO of Heads Up Leicester, added: “We are proud to be part of this innovative collaboration, strengthening our working relationships with maternity services, Healthy Together, Leicester Mammas and the family hubs in the city.

“This investment in testing out new ways of working together will bring new opportunities for families to receive care, advice and support from a range of organisations throughout the first 1,001 critical days.

“We are very much looking forward to meeting more pregnant families at our Bumps to Babies sessions, offering telephone support to complement health visitors’ work and providing the opportunity for families and babies to socialise and learn together at our Best Start Baby Groups.”

Sally Etheridge from Leicester Mammas said: “We have been offering breastfeeding peer support to families in the city for many years. Having breastfeeding peer supporters on the wards and embedded within maternity services means that during the crucial time around the baby’s birth, new mothers and parents can have unhurried time to ask questions and get the support they need to start breastfeeding.

“New mums will also be offered a one-to-one phone call once they get home, from a trained breastfeeding supporter.”  

Ann Raja, Lead Infant Feeding Midwife at UHL said “I’m delighted to be part of this pilot project which has allowed UHL to extend the award-winning Volunteer Breastfeeding Peer Support programme from being just at the Leicester General Hospital to the Leicester Royal Infirmary as well. UHL is working with Leicester Mammas who have years of experience in supporting mothers and families with breastfeeding. This collaboration promotes the warm chain of support for breastfeeding starting before birth and continuing through pregnancy, birth, at home, at work and on through the first 1,001 days. The Infant Feeding Team at UHL will also be collaborating with Leicester Mammas to offer Breastfeeding Peer Support telephone calls for new mothers in the first few days they are at home with their new baby.”

The Best Start for Life pilot project will run until May 2025.

For more information visit:

Health for under 5’s

Heads Up Leicester:

Leicester Mammas: