Having a baby at any time is a momentous thing, but giving birth in a strange country when you don’t know the system or even the language can be traumatic. Manor Gardens Welfare Trust has been running a three-year project funded by the Big Lottery called Bright Beginnings to support 1,500 of these women in North London through bilingual Maternity Mentors.
Our five Maternity Mentors are representative of local refugee and migrant communities and have been vital in developing links with women in those communities. The Maternity Mentors provide accessible and culturally appropriate drop-in groups, workshops and information so that pregnant women and new mothers have all the information they need to give their baby the best start in life. They provide bilingual support, help women sign up with GPs and fill out forms and provide advocacy in healthcare appointments if needed.
Our aim is to help women stay well during and after their pregnancy as well as understand how the health system works. We also promote good physical health and put on special classes as well as raising awareness of mental health issues such as post-natal depression.
A key feature of the service as it has evolved is the time spent on one-to-one sessions with the women. Our bilingual Maternity Mentors cover a wide variety of issues such as difficulties in accessing health care, poverty, poor housing, domestic violence and social isolation. They help the women get referrals to other specialist services such as counselling, legal advice or ESOL classes. Women also get the chance to take part in peer support groups so they can share knowledge and experiences and build long-term social support.
The first three years of the project have been evaluated by Healthwatch Islington. You can read the report here.
If you want to refer someone to our service please use this form