Leah Holder, of Thorness Close, Alvaston, Derby, says she was scared, alone and unsure until she visited Chaddesden pregnancy support service Ripplez | This is Derbyshire
Thursday, May 30, 2013
SCARED, alone and unsure – three words which sum up how 17-year-old Leah Holder felt about giving birth to her first baby.
But ask the 20-year-old today how she feels about having a second child and she will say: “Ready, relaxed and confident that I would know what to do.”
The mum-of-one said this attitude was because she was introduced to Ripplez while she was pregnant with her son, Kian McAdam.
It meant a nurse visited her regularly at home while she was expecting and continued to give her intensive parenting support until her son’s second birthday.
Leah, of Thorness Close, Alvaston, said: “When I became pregnant, I knew some stuff about children because I’ve got brothers and sisters – but I wasn’t sure on everything.
“It’s when you start to think about things like bathing the baby that you realise how scary it is to do it on your own.
Because Kian is now two, Leah is no longer part of the Ripplez programme but she and her son still attend its Footsteps group.
This is made up of young parents and their children who want to socialise with each other, go on trips together and have a say on how Ripplez helps others.
Leah said: “It was really hard when Kian turned two and I finished with Ripplez – it was sad saying goodbye.
“But Kian has benefited and still benefits so much from the Footsteps group, it’s really brought him out of shell. I was so worried at one point about his speech because he was a late talker but all of this has helped.
“He seemed really attached to me but, at Footsteps, he wanted to play with the other children, not just his mum.
“At the same time, I really like going because you’re not surrounded by parents who are older than you and you don’t feel uncomfortable.”
Not-for-profit Ripplez was set up in 2011 to provide NHS services to young parents-to-be aged 17 and under and in their first pregnancy.
The project was originally called the Family Nurse Partnership but it was changed from being run as part of the NHS to becoming a social enterprise – paid for by the health service but managed independently.
The aim was for the scheme to be run by the nurses involved in it, not by health care managers, with less bureaucracy than when it was part of the NHS.
Ripplez was a name chosen by the young parents already in the programme.
It includes a home-visiting programme for first-time teenage mums, with the aim of improving the ease of the pregnancy and the child’s long-term health and school prospects.
Family nurses from Ripplez also help to make sure the parents are financially self-sufficient and help them get in work if they need to.
The service – based at the Revive Healthy Living Centre, in Roe Farm Lane, Chaddesden – started out by helping 130 mothers and their families. They worked with them on matters ranging from quitting smoking and breast-feeding to playing with their children.
Today, it has the resources to support 430 mums-to-be and young parents in Derby, north and south Derbyshire, Erewash, Amber Valley and Burton.
The service’s massive expansion was made possible because of a grant of £450,000 over five years from national charity Impetus Trust.
It received £100,000 of this every 12 months.
Its chief executive, Chris Tully, said she was proud of how much the service had expanded in such a short space of time.
She said: “We’ve seen and heard some amazing stories during the two years since we’ve come out of the NHS .
“One of our first young clients has just been given a job as a nurse after going to university – even though, at one point, she thought she had no prospects and couldn’t do anything while she had a baby.
“There are others who have gone into social work or midwifery and it’s wonderful to see their lives develop. It’s great to see how we’ve grow over the past two years and what a difference we have made.”
When it was set up, Ripplez had seven family nurses available to help young parents but Chris said this number was now up to 19.
And she said it would increase to 22 by the end of the year.
Chris said the organisation’s aim was to reach as many teenage parents as possible over the coming years. In Derby, they are seeing 35% of them.
She said: “This is a voluntary service, so we can only offer to people to decide whether or not they want to take it up. The take-up is about 80%, which is positive.
“But there are still a lot of people we can reach out there – to help mums through their pregnancy, the child with their development and the parents with their aspirations – and that remains one of our big dreams.”
Chris said Ripplez also wanted to expand its Footsteps group.
She said: “Footsteps is really useful for young parents because, as well as it helping them socially, it is also running courses.
“These are there to help inspire the parents to think about work and their own aspirations, so we want to be able to offer that to as many of them as possible.
“Extending what we do is important to us – but we’d still like to remain local.”
WHERE IT ALL STARTED AND HOW TO GET INVOLVED
STAFF and volunteers involved in Ripplez have actually been providing pregnancy support services since 2007.
Although the service is celebrating its second anniversary, it started life six years ago as a programme called the Family Nurse Partnership.
It came about because of research in the US which suggested the effectiveness of “preventative, early-invention therapeutic programmes”.
But Ripplez itself was officially formed on January 6, 2011, as an independent health services provider – having previously been part of NHS community health services in Derby.
The change in the programme was marked two months before during a ceremony in the Mayor of Derby’s parlour at the city’s Council House, where mum Katy Thorpe, then 21, of Derby, spoke about the help she had received from the service.
Today, Ripplez said its priority is “to improve the lives of young parents and their children, creating positive changes in health, behaviour, relationships, the parental role and maternal well-being”.
It said: “The programme achieves community benefits by improving pregnancy outcomes, child health development and future school readiness and achievement – and parents’ economic self-sufficiency.
For more information about Ripplez, its Footsteps group or how to get involved, contact Derby 888091, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ripplez.co.uk.