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 runs Bright Beginnings, funded by the Big Lottery, to support 1,500 of these women in North London through bilingual Mentors.
Our Family Mentors represent local refugee and migrant communities and their lived experience has proved important in gaining the trust women in their communities. The 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.
During the pandemic all support moved directly online and our groups expanded to encompass the whole family.
Over time it has become clear that many of the families we work with have significant and complex needs. Our Mentors are all experienced advocates and are able to work with their clients on topics 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 were evaluated by Healthwatch Islington. You can read the report here.
If you want to refer someone to our service please use this form.