The eighth webinar of our #BBBYouthWelfare series, focused on the needs and experiences of young mothers and their babies throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
The webinar was chaired by Anamaria Oprea, Lead of the Social Care Learning and Development Hub at De Montfort University, joined by guest speakers:
Sasha Loyal, PhD Student, Centre for Reproduction Research, De Montfort University
Becky Saunders, Child Psychotherapist and Head of Policy & Development at Home-Start UK
Neetu Squire, Head of Community Development at Leicestershire Cares, with Young Mums Tanisa and Mikeisha
Cllr Sarah Russell, Deputy City Mayor of Leicester, Social Care and Anti-Poverty
Sasha and Becky shared the national picture, noting 17% of all mums are under 25. The recent “Babies in lockdown report” showed that:
- 87% of parents said they were more anxious as a result of COVID-19
- 7 in 10 said their ability to cope with their pregnancy or baby had been impacted
- Only 32% had confidence in being able to access mental health support if required
- 7 in 10 felt the changes from COVID-19 were affecting their unborn baby, baby, or young child
- Evidence shows that pregnancy and the earliest years lay the foundations for a child’s lifelong health, learning and happiness.
Younger mums are more likely to feel judged, shamed and that they are getting it wrongBecky Saunders
Neetu shared how Leicestershire cares had focussed on listening to and supporting young mums. The lockdown had exacerbated inequalities and for example they could not bulk buy, drive to supermarkets, did not have reliable digital access and many lived in small hostel flats or bedsits.
key to the work we delivered was being creative and adapting to the needs of the young mums, so we supported getting them on line, providing safe distance and online emotional support, practical help with food parcels as well as virtual social spaces to off load and share and have funNeetu Squire
I was alone in new flat unable to go out and feeling cut off and scared, so what was important was having Neetu checking in on me and being linked up online with other young Mums so we could support each other. This inspired me to set up my own businessTanisa
It was hard being with my child in a small flat in a hostel, and unable to go to play groups, but with the support of Neetu and other Mums online, I got through it and feel I got to know my daughter better, When I look back at what I have been through it makes me realise I am strong and with support can overcome anythingMikeisha
Deputy Mayor Sarah Russell shared that being a parent is tough and young Mums face a lot of challenges at the best of times.
What had been inspiring during lockdown was the creativity and agility shown by so many groups to offer support and going forward we have to build on this and the strengths of young Mums.
Play is a fundamental right that nurtures developmentDeputy Mayor Sarah Russell
In a lively questions and answers sessions, the importance of play for children was highlighted time and time again as was the need for Mums and children to be supported to build connections and relationships. Tanisa and Mikeisha both shared that going back into the community was worrying especially if you rely on public transport. They also thought their children would need support getting use to being around other children.
All agreed that young Mums are not one generic group and experiences and support they have access to varies immensely which is why it is so important to listen to and work with them. It is also very beneficial if local community support can be encouraged as peer groups are an invaluable and lifelong source of strength and support.
For more information and support
Babies in Lockdown report by Best Beginnings, HomeStart & Parent-Infant Foundation
The Parent-Infant Premium, new policy proposal
Working for babies, Lockdown lessons from local systems
The coronavirus 'baby boom' myth, article by Sacha Loyal, PhD student at DMU's Centre for Reproduction Research
Interview with Tanisa, a young single mother who accesses Leicestershire Cares’ Making Moves project
Tanisa’s new business - Mama Zuri Candles
The COVID-19 New Mum Study, preliminary data on the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the experiences and feeding practices of new mothers in the UK.
COVID-19 and Young Fathers report by University of Lincoln through the Following Young Fathers Further project
If you want to find out more about creative activities with babies in Leicester, DMU is running the Talent25 project, a long-term action research programme, stretching over 25 years. The first 4 years begin by working with early years’ children and their families offering free cultural and creative activities.
Supporting Teen Parents During COVID-19 study by George Washington University and Children's National Hospital in Washington
Local support services for young parents:
Health for Under 5s
Angels & Monsters Young Parents Group
Centre for Fun and Families
Next webinar on 26th May, International Perspectives on #BBB: https://www.dmu.ac.uk/about-dmu/events/events-calendar/2021/may/international-perspectives-on-buildbackbetter.aspx