As communities, public services, businesses and organisations strive to support a group deemed one of the hardest to reach, it’s more important than ever that the voices of young families are heard, and that they are able to influence the decisions which affect their lives.
Involving young families supported by the FNP programme is a vital part of our work and mums play an active role in sharing their experience of FNP. As well as sharing their stories at stakeholder events and Advisory Boards, they are a crucial part of the FNP recruitment process and on-going team reviews.
Here, a group of young mums share their stories.
Please note; names have been changed.
"When I found out I was pregnant I was 16, living in emergency B&B accommodation, drinking a bottle of vodka each day. Life was terrible and I'd been in and out of foster placements and had a bad relationship with my mum. I had only been with my partner for about a month so I didn’t know if he would stick around. I was scared when I found out I'd be having a baby. The biggest challenge for me at the time was having to get my housing sorted and thinking that I might have to do this by myself.
My midwife told me about FNP and I thought it sounded like a load of rubbish but said I’d do it so that people would think I was doing something good for once. When the family nurse came to see me and told me more about the programme and my baby’s brain I decided to give it a go. She listens to me and teaches me lots. I like the fact that she’s honest with me and I can rely on her. My baby is on a child protection plan and my family nurse is helping me to be a good mum. Before I joined FNP I didn’t even know how to change a baby’s nappy. I tried breastfeeding in the early days and I wouldn’t have done this without my family nurse helping me. I like it when I feel reassured that I’m doing things right with my baby and the homework that I do shows that I've been paying attention.
I've got a good relationship with my baby. She relies on me and I'm her teacher. I feel proud of my achievements as a mum and I want to be a good mum in the future. I'd like to go to college and get a good job. I'd also like us to be a family and hope this work with the family nurse will help us to get there.
The best bit about FNP for me is the reassurance. I also loved the learning when I was pregnant and found the baby’s development fascinating. My family nurse helped me to change my behaviour so that I stopped drinking and I think I'm a more patient person now.
Emily (FNP mum, Derby )
"When I found out I was pregnant, I was 18 and working 12 hour shifts, six days a week as a bar supervisor and drinking to excess. I was struggling to manage my feelings towards my previous pregnancy where I lost my baby to anencephaly. I'd been to a young person’s counselling service that, if anything, had made me feel worse. Straight away I felt at ease with my family nurse, Jane, as she explained what the programme was about.
Esme was born and once we'd settled into the postnatal ward, I text Jane to let her know Esme had made her entrance and within minutes I received a text back. Jane was constantly praising me and making my confidence go through the roof. She taught me how to read the signs Esme was making and how to interact with her. In the beginning, Esme and I really struggled with breast feeding – all I knew was what I’d seen on TV and they had made it look so easy! However, with her help we were able to figure it out. It was with Jane’s encouragement that I enrolled on to an access to nursing course and over the past year, she’s been a constant source of support, always convincing me not to give up on my dreams when college work has proved challenging. I’m now going to university in September to study midwifery. Without Jane, none of this would have been possible as she provided a character reference which was vital to access the course.
Jane taught me about the bond with my daughter and as Esme grows, how the interactions change and become more important. I owe all of our achievements to FNP for providing the knowledge and motivation to support me to find the patience and confidence that I now hold. I’ve learnt so much at each visit ranging from Esme’s monthly development to handy tips for the days you want to pull your hair out. I can honestly say that I’m dreading her second birthday as that’s when I’ll have to say goodbye to Jane. I hope that one day I’ll be able to have the same impact on the women I work with."
Mya (FNP mum, Bolton)
"I was 16 years old and still at school when I found out I was pregnant but throughout my pregnancy I finished my school year and sat my GCSEs.
I learned about the Family Nurse Partnership from my youth worker. When I said I was pregnant, she told me there was a team that could help and support me through my pregnancy and in the first few years of my baby’s life.
My partner thought the Family Nurse Partnership was a good idea and was invited to attend the sessions too, which he did for most of the visits. I like my nurse as she is very funny and really down to earth, which makes it easy to talk to her. She visits me about every two weeks and it’s great to have the same person each time. The programme helped me in many different ways and my nurse provided a comforting role and supported me through the hard times. I have learnt how to play with my baby, how to connect more with her and how to talk and communicate better with my partner instead of it ending in an argument. Materials used during the visits helped promote our relationship with our baby and got me and my partner ready to become parents. My family nurse helped me with breastfeeding my baby and I enjoy it now.
As I came nearer to my due date, a place to live was needed and we were temporarily placed out of the borough in Croydon for nearly four months, where my nurse travelled and continued to visit me. I gave birth in Croydon University Hospital; my daughter was born naturally and was a very healthy weight. Both my partner and I were overjoyed!
Being on the programme has been great and I would recommend it to other young mums. The best thing is that the nurse comes to your house and does one-to-one visits with you, rather than in a hospital or clinic, which helps as you feel more comfortable in your own home. Other services were provided to us through the programme, such as financial advice referrals and referral to the children’s centres and parenting programme.
I have spoken at professional stakeholder events about my experiences, and more recently at a GP event, something I never would have done in the past. I am now a lot more confident in myself and want to go back into education or work."
Lauren (FNP mum, Barnet)