Bristol Charity Launches Project To Help Perinatal Mental Health

Home Start Bristol has been awarded funding by Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCGs to work with families who are experiencing perinatal mental health issues. This comes as welcome news for those affected by this ever-growing issue, and the new funding will mean that not-for-profit organisations, such as Home Start Bristol, will be able to provide a much-needed service to complement the current support services available in the BNSSG areas.

The perinatal period covers pregnancy and the year following birth. During this time, it’s possible for women to be affected by various mental health conditions, which can have a huge effect on them, and their families. If the signs are spotted early enough, and symptoms treated, most women can make a full recovery with minimum impact on their family.

Home Start Bristol Scheme Manager, Beverley Symonds, says, “We’ve seen an increase year on year of referrals to us, to help parents suffering from perinatal depression. Thankfully, we are able to deliver the help, which other agencies can’t offer, because of our years of experience and established teams of staff and trained volunteers. It’s also fantastic to be partnering other local charities, such as Bluebell Care, Mother for Mothers and Rockabye, who have also received funding for this. I’m feeling very positive about the difference we’ll be able to make to so many families.

The fund has enabled Home Start Bristol to employ a part-time Perinatal Support Worker, who will be the first point of contact for referred families with needs relating to perinatal mental health.  Following an initial period of 6-10 weeks of face to face and telephone support, the families should then be able to benefit from Home Start Bristol’s core service, with further visits from a trained volunteer.

“We are already seeing the benefits of this support for women and families with perinatal issues. We’re enabling parents to receive help in their own homes, which is essential if they’re suffering from anxiety and depression”, continues Beverley.

With over 30 years’ experience of supporting families, the charity understands the impact of depression and anxiety – especially if coupled with isolation. It is often a vicious circle that is hard to break out of alone.

Home-Start Bristol’s approach is simple and effective – families are visited weekly by trained volunteers, who are parents themselves, and understand the challenges of family life. Beverley says:“We work alongside families, encouraging them and helping them to build confidence.  This type of support benefits both children and parents, increasing their sense of wellbeing and ability to manage”.

The charity relies on volunteers and runs 3 volunteer preparation courses each year. The next course starts this April so, if you would like to find out more, please visit the website: or phone 0117 950 1170.

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