|Virtual groups for parents and carers in Lancashire are bringing families together and helping to beat the isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.|
The groups, run by Lancashire Healthy Young People and Families Service, have already supported more than 350 families since May and the numbers are growing every month.
Rachael Jackson, from Preston, who has a six-month-old daughter called Lilly-Rose, said: “During these strange and difficult times, we have struggled to find any groups where Lilly-Rose and I can meet other new mums to socialise with and get advice and support, which has led us to feel very isolated.
“Our health visitor, who has been amazingly supportive, told us about the online baby groups that were run virtually. At first, I was very apprehensive as I am not good with technology and do not like being on camera. But the groups were really easy to access and there is no pressure to have your camera switched on!
“We have attended both the baby-led weaning and the Play, Chat, Read group. The leaders were very warm and welcoming and the groups gave us a lot of information and a chance to chat with other mums. We were also given a chance to ask questions that were answered by both professionals and other mums.
“We got a lot out of the groups and are excited to see what other groups are running.”
We run Lancashire Healthy Young People and Families Service on behalf of Lancashire County Council, and we launched the groups with the aim of supporting families who would otherwise have been attending face-to-face groups including baby clinics and parenting sessions.
The groups run weekly, fortnightly and monthly and are also recorded so parents and carers who can’t join live can still access the support and information afterwards.
Topics include infant feeding, moving on to solid foods, baby communication and speech and language, emotional well-being, settling in to school and night time wetting.
Michelle Lee, our Managing Director in Lancashire, said: “We have been absolutely delighted with the response to the virtual groups and they will definitely remain in place long after the pandemic is over to give parents the choice between face-to-face and virtual support. I’m really pleased that we have been able to create these online spaces for families to meet, get important advice and get to know each other in the face of these incredibly challenging times.”
County Councillor Shaun Turner, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “These groups are a great idea and very popular. They’re a way for parents to keep connected despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Whether it’s getting child care advice from a health professional, or sharing experiences of being a parent, the groups provide vital support to families across the county. We’re pleased that Lancashire Young People and Family Service (health visiting and school nursing) are providing these groups.”
You can find out more and view the schedule here on the Lancashire Healthy Young People and Families Service website https://lancsyoungpeoplefamilyservice.co.uk/home/videos-from-our-virtual-groups/ Updates are also posted on the Lancashire Healthy Young People and Families Service Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lancashirehealthyyoungpeopleandfamilies
If you’re interested in getting involved, please call 0300 247 0040, e-mail VCL.019.SinglePointofAccess@nhs.net or speak to your health visitor.
ECFWS is run by Virgin Care in partnership with children’s charity Barnardo’s, who provide free and easy access health services in the community. The project is working to help improve and understand accessibility to dental services for families in the region
UNICEF, which runs the Baby Friendly Initiative, has revalidated the gold standard awarded last year to Lancashire Healthy Young People and Families Service.
One year on, find out what we have achieved so far working in partnership with Frimley Health Foundation Trust, delivering a Community Services contract across North East Hampshire and Farnham and Surrey Heath.
The immunisation, health and developmental records of nearly half a million children across Lancashire are now being managed by a single information system.