Thanks to funding from our local NHS we are running a one year maternity project for migrant women from the Westgate Ward area of Ipswich. The project aims to increase connection, communication and engagement, while building trust in local maternity and health services.
The project was developed thanks to long-time ICM volunteer Monika who conceived the idea after she noticed the need within the local migrant communities for more pregnancy support.
Monika moved to the UK from Poland in 2014 with her family, and immediately enrolled in 3 different English classes. From there she became increasingly involved in ICM, becoming a volunteer teaching assistant and then one of our founding Community Champions. Before this Monika had been helping others in the local community in a variety of ways, with a real focus on helping reduce the barriers to accessing medical care.
Here’s what Monika had to say about the project:
“When people are coming to live in another country, they bring with them their future
plans and their hopes. Sometimes life has blessed them with a child or put them on a
rocky road to become parents. It is a huge change in life, it is never easy, and you
are never really prepared. Add to this a language barrier and different health care
systems it could be even worse, but the right level of support could reduce the
stress. It is a great privilege to be part of this journey and to build good relationships
with services which exist to help.”
One aspect of the project is a series of free workshops run alongside partner organisations. We held our first workshop ‘Meet and Talk to Midwives’ in June to great success. The session offered attendees opportunities to talk to NHS midwives about pregnancy, appointments and healthcare, giving birth, postnatal care, and much more, all within a safe and supportive environment. We're pleased to say the session was very well received, with one participant saying "It was very informative and enjoyable conversation with midwives today. Thanks to Ipswich Community Media for organising this workshop.” and another saying “I have enjoyed today's session very much. It was very informative and I am happy that all questions, concerns or worries were answered professionally by the hosts/NHS staff. The ladies in the group seemed very relaxed and could talk confidentially about their situation. Thanks very much for listening and providing support and reassurance.”
The workshop also gave the professionals involved an insight into gaps in the local maternity offer. Infant Feeding Coordinator Steph Roberson said “[it was] great hearing experiences and what would help to improve our service.” We hope to work further with key stakeholders in this area to bring to light the difficulties faced by migrant women when accessing these maternity services.
The project also includes conversational English classes for pregnant women, those who intend to become pregnant, and young mums with toddlers. Furthermore we will be delivering regular classes focusing on antenatal and perinatal issues and maternity services, including classes in local schools particularly aimed at the local Roma community. Additionally, to support the project, we are creating a group of “Buddies”, similar to our Community Champions, who will be working directly with the NHS and migrant women to increase their confidence and wellbeing in using health services.
Overall the Maternity Project is a chance to build stronger relationships between the local health services and migrant communities. This is best summed up by our Integration Team Coordinator Anjali:
“It isn’t a straight answer and an easy solution. It is rather starting a dialogue and bringing to the table different points of view. It is great to have the support of the NHS team and to be able to offer such a sustained year long project that may go some way to helping our migrant community to be seen, heard and supported through a key moment of their lives.”
For more information about the project, please contact Monika on email@example.com