Bid to help young Norwich mums wins praise

As any new parent will tell you, it is a life-changing experience having a baby for the first time, but a local service, offering support to young first-time mothers and their babies', has received praise for the initiative, following a report on the project's successful first year.

The Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) project is run by Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C) and helps mothers-to-be under the age of 18 from their early pregnancy all the way through until their child is two years old, with the aim of improving the health and wellbeing of both mums and babies.

Michelle Ackroyd, FNP supervisor, explained that pregnancy and birth are key points when most families are highly receptive to support and extra help.

She said: 'Parenting can be an extremely difficult job, particularly for young families, so it is vital that we can provide guidance and support to parents and help to prevent problems from developing.

'The partnership is a very practical approach to helping young parents who can find themselves under a lot of pressure and struggling to do their best for their child.' In the first year of the project, the Norfolk team has helped over 100 families, reduced rates of smoking during pregnancy and increasing breastfeeding.

In almost half of the families helped, the mothers were between 14 and 16 years old and the involvement of fathers during the pregnancy and baby development was significantly increased, with 70pc of fathers present at a meeting with the FNP team.

Last month the FNP team met representatives from the Department of Health to discuss the progress made since the project launched in January 2010.

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And Sam Page, service development lead for the Department of Health's FNP National Unit, praised the service in a letter and said: 'The Norfolk FNP team are delivering the programme to a high standard with good organisational support. The family nurses are clearly working extremely hard and cover a large geographical area and they have engaged clients well.'

The team works with families across Norfolk, except the Great Yarmouth area, to help improve pregnancy, child health and development, and parents' economic self-sufficiency.

They help parents to give up smoking during pregnancy and to have greater intervals between any subsequent births. They also work to improve language development in children, involve fathers in the pregnancy and their baby's growth, and work with the family to reduce child abuse and neglect.

They make regular visits to mothers in their homes during the pregnancy to talk about concerns and offer support and then once their baby is born, the team continues to visit and offer ongoing help and ensures babies are healthy.

The project was approved after commissioners NHS Norfolk and Norfolk County Council were successful in their joint bid to the Department of Health to make the county a three-year pilot site to deliver the project locally (similar projects are running elsewhere across the country).

For more information visit or call 020 7210 4850.

Have you been helped by a service in Norfolk?

Contact reporter Donna-Louise Bishop on 01603 772438 or email