Northumbria Healthcare supports new parents to stay active and avoid isolation
Midwives in Northumberland are supporting new parents with guidance on the go, by joining regular buggy walks that aim to help keep new parents active and combat loneliness.
The initiative, from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, was launched earlier this year to keep people connected as society started to open up and we moved into the next stage of recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Funded by the Trust’s charity Bright Northumbria, the popular walks were originally launched as a partnership with the Newcastle Eagles Community Foundation, with coaches from the basketball team leading walks in Berwick, Hexham and North Shields.
The scheme has now been taken further, with the weekly Berwick, Bumps and Buggies sessions now joined by the area’s Bright Horizons midwives, providing another opportunity to offer advice and support to new parents. The midwives are also completing their walk leader training, so that they can lead the walks going forward.
The walks encourage bonding between new parents and their babies, while also allowing parents to meet new people and have the opportunity to talk to other new parents in the aftermath of a lengthy period of lockdowns, restrictions and isolation. Plus, the benefits of fresh air and sunshine for babies and adults alike are well-documented.
Kelly Phillips, a teacher from Berwick, welcomed her son Obie to the world in December 2020.
“Having a baby in lockdown was a little anti-climactic,” she said. “Welcoming our little boy was obviously a wonderful experience, the care we received was second to none and having that quiet, quality time for bonding when he first arrived was lovely.
“But, it was difficult knowing we weren’t going to be able to welcome visitors any time soon or attend the usual baby groups to meet other new parents and babies. The days and nights started to feel longer and longer and sometimes I used to find myself in the local supermarket, standing in the aisles just hoping to speak to another adult.”
Kelly found out about the weekly walks through a friend and joined in May this year.
“The walks have helped to break up our day, they get us up and out early on, enjoying the fresh air and get our day off to a great start,” she continued.
“The best thing about the walks is the fact that I’ve met other new parents so we have been able to talk and share our experiences.
“We’ve made a great group of friends and all stay in touch outside of the walks now too and meet up independently, it’s made a huge difference for us all. I’d recommend the walks to any new parents.”
The walks are around a mile to a mile-and-a-half, taken at a gentle pace, starting from the Castle Gate car park at 9.30am on Wednesdays, booking is essential. For more information or to book, email email@example.com and those taking part will be sent a health form to fill in before their first session.
Brenda Longstaff, the Trust’s head of charity said: “We are delighted that we were able to provide funding for the buggy walks initiative, helping to keep new parents active and connect them in the aftermath of the series of lockdowns where some will have struggled with isolation.
“It is a relatively simple idea, but one that has supported social interaction and helped to forge new friendships.”
Northumbria Healthcare is one of just four organisations in the country to be part of the Active Hospitals pilot, which seeks to develop new ways of promoting physical activity to benefit patients and staff.
Public health consultant with the Trust, Jill Harland, said: “We know that loneliness and social isolation can have a profound impact on physical as well as emotional health and it’s now more important than ever for people to feel connected.
“We’re proud of the work we’ve done to support our communities in these difficult times and that this scheme has continued to go from strength to strength.”
For more information about Northumbria Healthcare’s maternity services, visit https://www.northumbria.nhs.uk/our-services/maternity/#b1b3d9ac or the Facebook page.
Ben O’Connell, media and communications officer
Benjamin.O’Connell@northumbria-healthcare.nhs.ukor 07833 046680.