A supercharged year
18 December 2019
A Supercharged Year
The end of the year typically creates a pause for reflection on what the year has included – the highs, the lows, the ambitions for the year ahead. And this year is no exception.
At the beginning of this year, we were PIP UK and a team of four. As we head into 2020, we have evolved into the Parent-Infant Foundation with a team of seven, delivering development support for local parent-infant relationship teams and policy and campaigning expertise to champion parent-infant relationships in the first 1001 days. We have clarity of purpose, an ambitious way forward and a strengthening organisational capacity. I couldn’t be prouder of what we have collectively achieved and are working towards both internally but alongside so many wonderful and passionate colleagues who want to see babies’ wellbeing front and centre. There have been some significant moments this year that have cemented our place as a collaborative leader in the first 1001 days landscape.
Rare Jewels report
In June, we launched the Rare Jewels report – a ground-breaking, unique piece of work led by our Head of Policy and Campaigning, Sally Hogg. It showcased for the first time what specialised parent-infant relationship teams are, and why they matter. It contained the most up-to-date analysis of provision across the four nations of the UK and highlighted the valuable and valued work of teams. Shockingly, it clearly showed where age discrimination exists within our mental health system with 42% of areas in England not accepting referrals for children aged two and under even though commissioners should be funding services for ALL children. Since the launch of the report, we are aware of more local teams in existence or under development and we are looking forward to working more closely with these in 2020 and beyond through the Parent-Infant Network.
Our Parent-Infant Network has been a fabulous work in progress this year after the first gathering of 18 teams at the end of 2018. Following positive feedback from teams, we have hosted two days this year bringing staff from across the UK together for networking, shared learning and feedback. These Network Days have involved staff from across the existing 29 teams and have provided an opportunity to understand shared challenges, successes and ambitions for the future. As well as connecting professionals across the UK, the events have given us at the Foundation a chance to understand what areas we can support with to try and take pressure away from frontline staff as teams are developing and growing. We have also spent time with local teams and, while we provide bespoke information for individual teams, there is a range of collective needs across the network which we are working to address i.e. communications support, data and outcome measures. More on this in 2020!
Strategy, brand and Toolkit launch
It’s been a couple of months since the ‘launch’ of the Parent-Infant Foundation, our new branding (designed by Lord Design Studio), our strategy and the comprehensive Toolkit for those wanting to set-up, maintain or develop a local specialised parent-infant relationship team. After the razzmatazz of our ‘do’ at the Nomura building – thanks to Mastercard UK – we are now back to the reality of delivering what we set out to achieve! Our new website (beautifully created by Perfectly Digital) had more activity in its first month than our last website in the previous year! A huge part of that increase is visitors to our Toolkit, a comprehensive resource which includes information on why what, how and where specialised parent-infant relationship teams are needed. It provides expertise and experience generously provided from across the Network and gives a framework for action.
Although its creation was a huge piece of work, skilfully crafted by our Head of Clinical Strategy and Development, Dr Karen Bateson, the Toolkit has also provided a wealth of ideas and content for Version Two which will be published in 2021. This is exciting for us as we test the Toolkit within a new and developing area throughout 2020 following a partnership grant from the National Lottery Community Fund. Our work in Essex, Thurrock and Southend with the Together with Baby team is providing us with an opportunity to get under the skin of the process of setting up a team and the questions it raises for the local team, commissioners and families. This unique journey will be shared through a variety of interactive communications in 2020 as well as a robust process evaluation led by the Maternal and Child Health Research team at City University.
2019 saw the launch of new parent-infant teams in Northern Ireland and South Wales. Our work has therefore expanded into the devolved nations and given the lack of a specialised team in Scotland, we were delighted to receive funding in the Autumn from the Cattanach Trust and the William Grant Foundation to help us expand our support north of the border. This comes just as the Scottish government have announced their commitment to investing in infant mental health hubs and we are excited to be working alongside them as they plan this development.
As the secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Conception to Age Two, we have held a vibrant and active programme this year, bringing together ministers and MPs involved in the Health Select Committee Inquiry on the first 1000 days, the Science and Technology Select Committee Inquiry on the early years, the Inter-ministerial Working Group on family support in the early years, as well as interested stakeholders in the field. We have also contributed to the select committee evidence gathering, provided suggested input and encouraged stakeholders to respond to the consultations on the NHS Long Term Plan and the Prevention Green Paper.
1001 Critical Days Movement
In our role of coordinating the 1001 Critical Days Movement, we have produced useful campaigning resources that visualise why relationships between parents and their babies in the first 1001 days are so crucially important, facts about baby brain development, and a handout to support conversations with local commissioners about what they can do to support the mental health of babies and young children. As we wrap up for the year, a review of the 1001 Critical Days Movement is underway with stakeholder interviews, parent feedback and a members survey already in action, and three sell-out stakeholder workshops occurring within the first two weeks of the new year!
Parent-Infant Conference, Jan 29th 2020
As I look towards 2020, I also see the Parent-Infant Conference on the horizon, which we are hosting in partnership with the Anna Freud Centre. I am really excited by the programme of speakers and the discussion time built into the day alongside the space we have for maximum networking opportunities. It will be a great day for learning and meeting others in our sector and so I hope as many as possible can join us.
I cannot end the year without shouting about the amazing team I work with at the Foundation. Everyone provides expertise, experience and enthusiasm to what we are working to achieve. Everyone is valued and contributes to how we operate and what we deliver. Despite being compact and bijou in capacity – and our remote working – we are efficient and know how to enjoy downtime together. We have a new office based in Place2Be where we all gather once a month, and I have especially enjoyed our recent socials after the Foundation launch, afternoon tea for a big birthday celebrated by one of the team, plus our Christmas lunch and karaoke!
Following inspiration from Karl Wilding at the NCVO, and his first blog post in the role of CEO, this is my first and something I will continue monthly in 2020 (is that my first resolution for 2020?!) to share the activities of the Foundation. I welcome feedback on what might be of interest to readers and invite you to contact me via email, Twitter or LinkedIn.
For now, all the best for the holiday season, and see you in 2020!