Our Community Link project provides support for pregnant women and new mothers in the community who are isolated and in need of support. These women may be facing a range of difficulties and issues including immigration and asylum, housing, a history of mental health problems, abuse, and/or substance misuse. Some of the women we work with in the community have also been in Holloway or another prison or they may be at risk of detention. So there are a number of reasons why they may need our support.
Many of the women we work with in the community are foreign nationals with little or no support network. They may have experienced detention in their country of origin and may be seeking asylum in the UK on humanitarian grounds.
Community Link takes referrals from agencies and services that have identified a woman as being in need of support. The organisations we work with include Haringey Women’s Forum, the Helen Bamber Foundation, Hibiscus and Women @ Well. A woman may also refer herself or may be known to us through our work in Holloway. This work is managed by our Community Link co-ordinator.
We can meet a woman in the community antenatally to give her the opportunity to write a birth plan and talk about how she would like to be supported during birth.
Women are given the chance to discuss any concerns they may have. We will attend the birth, if that is her wish, and offer postnatal support through visits, telephone calls and texts following the birth. We can offer practical support with feeding and other aspects of parenting as necessary; this can sometimes include help with providing baby clothes and equipment and small grants for essentials in cases of hardship. We offer to take birth photos for women and also support family members to be involved if this is the mother’s wish.
We also support women to link in with their local groups and services for parents, such as children’s centres. We can assist women in their contact with other agencies, such as housing, immigration or social services and we are sometimes able to offer language support too.
Birth Companions aims to empower women as far as possible while avoiding dependency, so we help women to build up their own support networks within their communities.